Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

May 8, 2020

Senator Kushner Visits With Nursing Home Employees As Engraved Products Donates 6,000 Masks For Workers

DANBURY – State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury) today joined Engraved Products Managing Director Graves Kiely on a visit to three local nursing homes to show workers their appreciation for their hard work during the COVID-19 crisis, and for Engraved Products to distribute a total of 6,000 free face masks to health care workers.

The visit was part of a morning-long tour by Sen. Kushner of nursing homes– including the St. John Paul II Center and the Western Rehabilitation Care Center in Danbury, and Ability Beyond in Bethel – that culminated with a final stop at Kimberly Hall North in Windsor.

More than three dozen Democratic lawmakers – including state Reps. Ken Gucker and Raghib Allie-Brennan – visited a total of 15 nursing homes throughout Connecticut today.

The visits come the day after the state Department of Public Health released figures showing that 58% of all COVID-19-related deaths in Connecticut have occurred in nursing home patients; Kimberly Hall North in Windsor has the second-highest number of nursing homes deaths in the state, with 40 as of May 7.

At each location, Democratic state senators spoke with nursing home employees to express their appreciation for their work, but also to highlight the fact nursing home employees – many of whom are people of color and women – are disproportionately impacted by COVID-19 because they are exposed to the virus but are not always provided with the necessary personal protective equipment.

“During this pandemic we have focused on strategies for limiting the spread of COVID-19 and on ensuring that our hospitals have enough equipment and beds to treat the sick. But now we’ve entered a new phase of the battle: protecting the other, often-unseen line of defense in our fight against the coronavirus, which is nursing home employees,” Sen. Kushner said. “In Connecticut and across the country, nursing homes and prisons are incubators for COVID-19. Yet the people working in these facilities, and the people living in these facilities, they feel invisible, like they don’t count. We need to shield these workers so they don’t become ill and pass this virus on to their families. We need to raise the profile of the work they are doing, the sacrifices they are making, and demand safer working conditions for them.”

“Today was our way of highlighting the problem. Now we have to go about finding a way to fix it,” Sen. Kushner said.

Engraved Products owners Graves and Helena Kiely have now donated over 10,000 masks to front line workers fighting the COVID-19 epidemic, including donations to Catholic Charities and Regional Hospice, Home Care of Western Connecticut, and the three nursing homes today.

Kiely said he was grateful to be invited to today’s event, which he called “eye-opening.”

“This epidemic is a wake-up call” Kiely said. “Our health care workers need support, encouragement and protection. It’s not enough to call them heroes – they are overwhelmed and need real assistance. I’m glad to have been able to make a small contribution, but it’s a drop in the bucket compared to what is needed. Everyone needs to find a way to pitch in.”

Engraved Products was founded 50 years ago in 1970 and has done engraving for Duracell, GE, Ethan Allen, and for scholastics, sports, and special events. Their showroom on Christopher Columbus Avenue in Danbury features three showrooms and all of its engraving facilities, including the inventory room, assembly room, laser engraver, sand blaster, plaque cutter, photo studio, and paint booth for hand-painted/air-brushed products.

Nursing Home Visits

State Senator Julie Kushner, center, stands with Engraved Products Managing Director Graves Kiely, left (in blue hat), and health care workers outside the St. John Paul II Center in Danbury on Friday morning.