May first was the kickoff for protests of nurses in 139 hospitals spread out over 13 states in a demand for better Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to use while they are treating COVID-19 patients.
Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director of National Nurses United (NNU), said, “Nurses signed up to care for their patients. They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” CBS News reported.
The NNU says that over 60 nurses have died in the Coronavirus pandemic and hopes that the provision of better PPE —masks, gloves, gowns, etc.— will lessen the death toll.
The NNU is calling on President Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act, mandating that manufacturers increase production of respirators, face shields, coveralls, gowns, gloves and other equipment, and wants the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to enact an “emergency temporary standard” that demands that all healthcare employers be given sufficient PPE to allow the safe treatment of COVID-19 patients.
Otherwise, the organization states, hospitals will remain sources of infection “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.”
At the Corpus Christi Medical Center in Texas, RN Kimberly Smith said, “Mayday! CCMC nurses are in distress. We are collectively desperate for the appropriate PPEs so we can safely attend to our patients. We are holding a bake sale to draw attention to the need for N95 masks. It is preposterous that CCMC, which is owned by HCA, the richest healthcare corporation in America, would not adequately supply us the protection we need.”
At the University of California Irvine Medical Center, Maureen Berry, an RN, said, “We are here on the front lines every day fighting for our patients and communities. We demand the highest level of protection when we go to work. We demand UC put patients over profits and provide all health care workers with the proper PPE now!”
Castillo said, “On this day that celebrates the labor movement and working people, union nurses are standing up to demand the protections they need now!
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