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1 Apr, 2020 17:32

US nurses herald PROTEST over lack of safety gear putting them at risk of Covid-19

US nurses herald PROTEST over lack of safety gear putting them at risk of Covid-19

National Nurses United has accused HCA, a healthcare company that runs a chain of hospitals across the US, of putting members at risk when treating coronavirus patients. Protests this week will demand better work conditions.

“Nurses at various HCA hospitals are reporting that they have had to work without proper protective equipment,” Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United, said in a statement on Wednesday.

Nurses from HCA hospitals across seven states will protest through April 3 by picketing outside, demanding better work conditions.

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Among the safety complaints cited by Ross are reports of having to reuse protective masks, not being informed when nurses are in contact with a confirmed coronavirus patient, and some nurses being told not to wear masks at all because it “scares” patients. 

The union is demanding HCA hospitals provide “optimal personal protective equipment for nurses and other staff,” which includes respirators and “head-to-toe coverings.”

NNU represents 10,000 registered nurses at 19 HCA hospitals in states such as California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Texas. 

This will not be the first time medical professionals have protested during the coronavirus pandemic. Nurses at Jacobi Medical Center, located in New York City – a city struggling with hospital capacity and a shortage of proper equipment – staged a protest on Saturday over the conditions they were working under, which includes reusing medical masks due to a lack of supplies. 

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“We’re all at risk if we lack the supplies we desperately need,” one nurse at the protest told the New York Post. “It’s a pandemic. If we get sick, our community gets sick. We are all people and our patients deserve better.”

Hospitals in states such as Illinois, Georgia and California have seen nurses protest for similar reasons. The NNU’s new protest will be the first effort coordinated across multiple states.

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