A California hospital suspended ten nurses because they refused to treat coronavirus patients without the utmost protection from N95 masks.
Nurses at the Saint John Health Center in Santa Monica said they requested N95 masks, which can filter 95% of all airborne particles, including those too tiny to be blocked by ordinary masks, but hospital officials said they were not needed.
Last week, one of the nurses tested positive for COVID-19 because doctors at the hospital advised health workers to wear better protection.
Ten nurses at the Saint John Health Center in Santa Monica, California, were suspended for refusing to treat patients with N95 mask-free coronaviruses. The nurses of the hospital are represented by raising their fists in solidarity after having asked for greater protection
Nurses at the Saint John Health Center in Santa Monica said they requested N95 masks, which can filter 95% of all airborne particles, including those too small to be blocked by ordinary masks, but hospital officials said they were not necessary
It was then that nurses demanded N95 masks to treat infected people and the hospital suspended them, according to the National Nurses Union, which represents them.
Nurses are paid but are not allowed to return to work pending a human resources survey, the union said.
There have been over 27,000 confirmed cases in California of coronavirus, which has been blamed for 885 deaths.
Across the country, there have been more than 645,000 cases of coronavirus, which is responsible for 28,585 deaths.
Across the country, there have been more than 645,000 cases of coronavirus, which is responsible for 28,585 deaths
How the number of coronavirus cases has increased over time in the United States
How the number of new coronavirus infections has increased over time in the United States
A daily snapshot of the number of deaths in the United States attributable to coronavirus
The suspended nurses are among hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health workers across the country who say they have been asked to work without adequate protection.
Some have participated in protests or filed formal complaints. Others buy – or even make – their own supplies.
As some took their own precautions, others called their hospitals for masks and other protections, sometimes with fatal results.
A Florida nurse died last week after her husband said he had treated coronavirus patients without receiving a face mask.
Danielle DiCenso, 33, a field nurse stationed in the intensive care unit of Palmetto General Hospital, started showing symptoms of COVID-19 two weeks after working long hours with infected patients without protective equipment .
Danielle DiCenso, 33, reportedly died from coronavirus after being exposed due to lack of appropriate personal protective equipment at the Florida hospital where she worked
Her husband David found her dead in her living room on April 9 after being quarantined and her condition quickly deteriorated.
He claims that hospital staff did not give him the right equipment, and now their four-year-old son is motherless.
Others, like suspended nurses, were unwilling to take the risk of working on the front line without adequate protection.
Imaris Vera tells DailyMail TV that she left the intensive care unit at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois on March 30 when she arrived for her shift only to realize that masks requested from staff were inadequate.
And the RN, who cares for patients with coronavirus, says she offered to wear her own personal protective equipment (PPE), and her manager denied her request, citing CDC policy.
Imaris, 30, currently lives with her sister Sabrina who has a rare blood disorder, which is life threatening if she is infected with COVID-19, which led Imaris to decide to put her family first and go out. of the hospital.
Imaris Vera, 30, was released from the intensive care unit at Northwestern Medicine Central DuPage Hospital in Winfield, Illinois on March 30. The RN arrived for her shift only to realize that the masks requested from the staff were inadequate and that she was not allowed to wear hers.
Imaris Vera currently lives with her sister Sabrina, who has a rare blood disorder, which is life threatening if she is infected with COVID-19, which led Imaris to decide to put her family first and to leave the hospital. . Imaris is pictured in hospital clothes
In mid-March, federal authorities first told doctors and health workers that the country’s stockpile did not have enough basic medical supplies, including masks and gowns, to cope with overwriting of future coronavirus cases.
As COVID-19 cases skyrocketed in March, the United States has been hit by a critical shortage of medical supplies, including N95s, which are primarily manufactured in China. In response, the CDC lowered its standard for protective equipment for healthcare workers, recommending that they use bandanas if they lack masks.
Despite advice, many hospitals have always opted for more adequate protection because the infection has proven to be extremely contagious.
The CDC said on Wednesday that at least 9,200 healthcare workers have been infected.
The CDC said on Wednesday that at least 9,200 healthcare workers have been infected. A nurse comes out of a tent with a kit to test the new COVID-19 coronavirus at a test station for employees of the University of Washington Medical Center in Seattle, Washington
Saint John’s said in a statement that on Tuesday it was providing N95 masks to all nurses caring for patients with COVID-19 and those waiting for test results. The statement said the hospital has increased its supply and disinfects the masks daily.
“It’s no secret that there is a national shortage,” the statement said. The hospital declined to comment on the suspended nurses.
Angela Gatdula, a Saint John nurse who fell ill with COVID-19, said she had asked hospital directors why the doctors wore N95s but not the nurses. She says they told her that the CDC said the surgical masks were enough to keep her safe.
She was then struck by a dry cough, severe body pain and joint pain.
“When I got the phone call I was positive, I was really scared,” she said.
She is now recovering and plans to return to work next week.
“The next nurse who gets this may be unlucky. They may require hospitalization. They could die, ”she said.
Boxes of N95 protective masks for use by medical personnel in the field are seen in a New York State Emergency Operations Command Center during the coronavirus outbreak in New Rochelle
Some exasperated health workers have complained to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
“I … fear retaliation for being a whistleblower and beg to keep my name anonymous,” wrote a Tennessee medical worker, who complained that staff members were not allowed to wear their own masks. they did not directly treat COVID-19 patients.
In Oregon, a March 26 complaint warned that masks were not provided to nurses working with COVID-19 suspected patients. Another Oregon complaint claims that nurses “have learned that wearing a mask will result in disciplinary action.”
A New Jersey nurse who asked not to be appointed for fear of reprisal said she was looking for a new job after complaining to OSHA.
“Do I regret making a complaint? No, at least not yet, ”she said. “I know it was the right thing to do. “
Some take to the streets.
Nurses unions in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, California and Pennsylvania planned actions in their hospitals on Wednesday and posted on social media using the hashtag “PPEoverProfit “
Nurses at the Fresno Medical Center at Kaiser Permanente in central California demanded more protective supplies during a demonstration during their shift change on Tuesday. The hospital, like many in the United States, requires nurses to use an N95 mask daily, which raises concerns about the transmission of infection from one patient to another.
Ten nurses at the facility tested positive for COVID-19, said Kaiser. Three were admitted to the hospital and one is in intensive care, organizers of the demonstration said.
Wade Nogy, Kaiser’s senior vice-president, denied union claims that the nurses were unnecessarily exposed.
“Kaiser Permanente has years of experience in the management of highly infectious diseases, and we safely treat patients infected with this virus, while protecting other patients, members and employees,” said Nogy.
Amy Arlund, an intensive care nurse at the facility, said that before the pandemic, following the infection control protocols they currently use would have resulted in disciplinary action.
“And now it’s as if they threw all these standards out the window as if they never existed,” said Arlund. ‘It’s beyond my skills.’