A friendly phone call is all too normal during Thanksgiving — that is unless it’s coming from the vice president-elect, herself.
Kamala Harris called a registered nurse in Chicago on Thursday to thank her for her work during the pandemic.
“I know it’s personal for you, and I know that it requires mental and emotional and physical and spiritual energy and power that you give to it, so thank you,” Harris can be heard telling Talisa Hardin in a video Bonnie Castillo, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), posted to Facebook.
Harris posted her side of the call as well.
Harris reportedly also spoke to Hardin about the Defense Production Act, a 1950 law that could expedite the process of giving more resources and supplies to medical staff on the front lines of the Covid-19 pandemic, Castillo said.
A NNU representative told CNN that the phone call lasted 15 minutes, during which Hardin spoke more about her time as a nurse.
“Talisa [Hardin] talked about how she and other nurses had to buy their own PPE because the hospital didn’t provide what they needed,” NNU wrote in a statement to CNN. “And Talisa [Hardin] said how this was disgraceful because you wouldn’t send a soldier into battle without gear.”
Hardin’s mother and uncle have both contracted Covid-19, with her uncle currently in the hospital.
Hardin, who is a registered nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center, previously testified to the House Oversight Committee in May on behalf of the medical center and NNU, the union that she’s a part of.
“The percentage of patients under investigation who eventually test positive for the virus is very high, but our hospital management has consistently refused to give nurses in my unit the protections that we need to avoid exposure and infection,” Hardin said, according to written testimony.
She said that the medical center failed to give them the necessary equipment they needed –like face shields and hospital gowns.
“As a nurse, it was deeply disappointing to listen to hospital attorneys, people who have zero experience with medical or nursing care, refuse to listen to health care professionals in their hospital. Management was consistently condescending and patronizing to our nurses,” Hardin said.
Hardin says that the lack of resources has heightened the risk of transmitting the virus to medical staff and their families. She sent her own daughter away to live with her grandmother, meaning that the two spent Mother’s Day apart.
“When I come home every day, I live in fear of contracting the virus,” Hardin told Congress. “When I get home, I have to take off my scrubs, because the hospital won’t give us hospital scrubs. I leave them outside in a plastic bag for a few days before I bring them in to wash them.”
Douglas Emhoff, who is married to Harris, and set to become the first second gentleman, also spoke with Juan Anchondo, another registered nurse, who works in a medical surgical floor in El Paso, Texas, on Thanksgiving Day.
The nurses’ union posted that video as well.