Chamber of Commerce, Tri-Cities community forms coalition to advocate for caregivers

KENNEWICK, Wash. — When you hear first responder or healthcare worker, what’s the first image that pops into your head?

Firefighters? Nurses? Doctors?

But there’s a sector of frontline workers that some feel has been overlooked, especially during the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our healthcare workers are out in the hospitals, but also, our healthcare workers are out everyday in the communities,” said Roy Wu, owner of Home Instead Senior Care in Kennewick. “Caregivers are healthcare workers.”

Every day, Wu’s employees are entering the homes of elderly, often more vulnerable patients. But they aren’t considered healthcare workers, and therefore don’t always have the same access to PPE and other resources.

That’s why Wu reached out to the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce.

“We thought what a great opportunity to create a coalition around this so that we can really leverage the strength of this community to get something done,” said Stephanie Swanberg, government & regional affairs director for the Tri-City Regional Chamber of Commerce. 

Swanberg and Wu, along with other community leaders, formed the Tri-Cities Senior Care Support Coalition. The coalition composed a letter to local lawmakers in hopes of capturing their attention.

“What’s happening is the hospitals are getting a ton of attention right now, but where this war is really playing out is in the senior care facilities,” said “They’re doing the work, and yet they don’t have the same support, they don’t have the same protections, they don’t have the same resources.”

The letter asks that caregivers be classified as healthcare workers, eligible for hazard pay, stipends and tax relief and for support to be provided for local supply chain sources of PPE.

“We want to tell the story of our caregivers every single day,” said Wu. “They do fantastic work, they work with seniors and veterans, and those are our vulnerable population.”

If you’d like to join the coalition or learn more, email

Read the full letter below:

Senior Care Coalition