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Maryland Rep. Ruppersberger to propose ‘hero’ pay for hospital staffs during coronavirus pandemic in honor of Dr. Joseph Costa

Maryland Rep. C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger will propose federal legislation this week that awards “hero” pay, or bonuses, to hospital workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

Ruppersberger, a Democrat representing Maryland’s 2nd Congressional District and a former Baltimore County executive, named the bill after Dr. Joseph Costa, the beloved director of the critical care unit at Baltimore’s Mercy Medical Center who died of COVID-19 in July.

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“From Day One of this pandemic, there have been heroic people like Dr. Costa running into the fire,” Ruppersberger said in a statement about the The Dr. Joseph J. Costa Honoring Essential Americans Risking Their Safety (HEARTS) Act. “We must compensate those on the frontlines who are assuming extraordinary risk to themselves and their families in order to keep the rest of us safe and alive.”

Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of the critical care division at Mercy Medical Center who treated patients battling COVID-19, died of the coronavirus on Saturday.
Dr. Joseph Costa, the chief of the critical care division at Mercy Medical Center who treated patients battling COVID-19, died of the coronavirus on Saturday. (Mercy Medical Center)

The proposal would provide hazard pay to doctors, nurses, specialists and non-medical staff in hospitals such as custodians who work in close proximity to COVID-19 patients within federally-designated virus hotspots, according to a news release sent out Tuesday by Ruppersberger’s staff. It was not immediately clear how much those workers would receive as a result of the bill, or where the funds would come from.

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Ruppersberger plans to unveil the proposal Thursday at the Mercy Medical Center’s Weinberg Garage alongside David Hart, Costa’s husband, who stood at the late doctor’s bedside when he died.

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