Singer, songwriter, and activist Pete Seeger died this week at the age of 94. Social media immediately lit up with the news of his passing, with everyone – including the President – sharing memories of what this kind, gentle man meant to them.
So why is he the topic of a health care blog post? Easy.
Seeger was a champion of the underdog – those underserved, under-represented, exploited, common folks who do the work that makes America go. He did it through song, with sagas about railroad workers, unions and hard times. He did it through his presence at rallies and benefit concerts, encouraging passage of health care for all, better living and working conditions for immigrants, unskilled, or low-paid workers, including those who support our health system day in and day out.
Like those working overnight shifts to clean and disinfect hospitals and nursing homes but can’t afford health care themselves. Or the immigrant home health aide that changes your mother’s diapers and feeds her lunch – but who can’t take a paid sick day to care for her own mother. Or the Meals on Wheels delivery person, who may be the only social contact a homebound senior has all week.
Seeger understood that it’s the underpaid, under-appreciated workers who are the vital gears in our system. He gave them a voice, made their voices heard, and in his unique way, made their lives better. Better health, better working conditions, better outcomes.