A group of ten nurses have been suspended by the hospital where they work because they refused to care for coronavirus without being given N95 masks.
The nurses at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica, California reportedly banded together in protest after administrators at the hospital said N95 masks – which are known to help protect against coronavirus infection – were not necessary and did not provide them.
One of the nurses, Mike Gulick, said he had been careful not to bring coronavirus home to his wife and two-year-old daughter. He stopped by a hotel after work just to take a shower before arriving home. He washed his clothes in disinfectant and washed his hands religiously – then a nurse in Gulick’s ward tested positive for Covid-19.
The next day, doctors were conducting rounds and asked nurses why they were not wearing N95 masks and urging them to get better protection, Gulick said, which he said was the final straw.
Gulick and a group of nurses told hospital managers that they would not enter coronavirus patients’ rooms without N95 masks, which filter out 95 percent of all airborne particles. Instead of providing the mask, the hospital suspended the nurses, according to the National Nurses Union which now represents them.
According to the union, the nurses are still being paid. They just are not allowed to return to work while human resources conducts an investigation.
The hospital released a statement that, as of Tuesday, saying it is providing N95 masks to all nurses charged with caring for Covid-19 patients. The statement also said the hospital has increased its supply of masks, which they said they are disinfecting daily.
‘It’s no secret that there is a national shortage,’ the hospital wrote.
The Centers for Disease Control’s guidelines recommend N95 masks for nurses ‘who need protection from both airborne and fluid hazards,’ although it notes nurses caring for coronavirus patients may use makeshift face coverings such as bandannas or scarves while treating coronvirus patients.
News of the nurses’ suspension comes as hospitals have had to deal with a sustained shortage of personal protective equipment in the wake of the outbreak.
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