I am writing on behalf of Portland Adult Education Assistant director Elizabeth Love and Friends of Portland Adult Education board chair Robert Wood.

The leadership of Portland Adult Education is deeply grateful and humbled by the work of all health care workers who are helping Maine fight the coronavirus pandemic. In the past three years, we have trained more than 500 workers for health care jobs. Many of them are immigrants who bring years of experience as health care workers in their home countries.

Our students, former students and graduates work at critical jobs in the state’s hospitals and nursing homes. They clean and disinfect patients’ rooms, transport patients within the hospital, assist nurses and doctors in tasks such as taking vital signs, care for elderly people at home and perform other, crucial duties to save lives and help bring an end to the pandemic – even as they put their own health at risk.

An adult education ESL student who works in housekeeping at Maine Medical Center told her teacher, “Our duties (are) to make the hospital’s rooms clean, even if (they are) rooms where the patient was infected by coronavirus.” She noted that workers need more protection, then added, “Even if we wear masks and gloves, I (am) still scared.”

While CNAs, hospital housekeeping workers and others in health care support jobs have always been important, their efforts now are more vital than ever. We are fortunate for their work, and that of all health care workers, in helping us through this perilous time.

Anita St. Onge

executive director at Portland Adult Education


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