Central Valley area nurses made a statement this past Friday, May 1 which is also known as International Workers Day, aka “May Day”— with shift change actions calling for optimal COVID-19 protections. These local actions are part of nurse actions that took place at 139 hospitals in 13 states representing more than 95,540 nurses, according to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United (CNA/NNU).
Nurses from Doctors Medical Center in Modesto and Emanuel Medical Center in Turlock supported this cause this past Friday. There were over 30 RNs combined from both hospitals that participated in the outside action on May Day.
Nurses say their demand for optimal Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is underscored by the fact that more than 60 nurses across the country have died of COVID-19, although due to lack of testing, the number may be higher.
“Nurses signed up to care for their patient. They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said CNA/NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “On this day that celebrates the labor movement and working people, union nurses are standing up to demand the protections they need now.”
“In order to protect our patients, families, and community, nurses need to have proper PPE while working,” said Raechel Bairos, RN, of Emanuel Medical Center.
California Nurses Association/National Nurses United registered nurse members are calling on employers and the government to provide nurses and other health care workers with the highest level of protections, including powered air-purifying respirators, and single use of N95s and coveralls that incorporate head coverings and shoe coverings, and gloves. Otherwise, hospitals will remain fomites for infection, say CNA/NNU RNs, and nurses and health care workers will continue to get sick and sidelined, die, and be unable to care for the next wave of patients.
Nurses say it’s clear that the industry thinks they have produced an acceptable solution to the PPE shortage by implementing widespread use of various N95 decontamination systems. This is unacceptable and unsafe, say nurses, who are calling on President Trump to activate the Defense Production Act to order the mass production of PPE. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must also pass an emergency temporary standard to mandate that healthcare employers provide protections needed for COVID-19, say nurses.
National Nurses United is the largest and fastest growing union of registered nurses in the U.S. with more than 150,000 members nationwide. NNU plays a leadership role in safeguarding the health and safety of RNs and their patients and has won landmark legislation in the areas of staffing, safe patient handling, infectious disease and workplace violence prevention.