Mask shortages across country puts nurses, their patients at risk during pandemic

Bay Area

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KRON) – Nurses across the country are speaking out regarding the lack of personal protective equipment available to them during this pandemic.

Some nurses say the directive they have been given is unsafe for them and for patients. 

The National Nurses United Organization says they keep hearing about the national stockpile of gear that’s supposed to be coming to their hospitals but have yet to see the results.

In the meantime, hospitals like Kaiser are forcing them to work under unsafe conditions. 

“So far, I’m feeling okay, but I’m terribly, terribly concerned about the situation that’s happening in our hospitals and the risk to so many nurses,” Amy Scott Slovick said. 

National Nurses United is sounding the alarm as they say a national shortage of N-95 masks keeps those on the front lines virtually unprotected. ​

“The issue that we’re having though is we keep hearing all these supplies are coming. We keep hearing from our hospital, oh yes we have what we need, but all you need is droplet protection, and the issue is, that is absolutely is not true,” Scott Slovick said. ​

Nurse Amy Scott Slovick says these lowered precautionary standards is the new directive being given at Kaiser Hospitals across the Bay Area. 

Nurses are even being told they could be fired if they’re found wearing N-95 respirators, something they know they need. ​

“For nurses, when we’re caring for patients, especially those who are at high risk or who are positive for COVID, we really need to have the N-95 or the cappers, because they’re medical grade,” Scott Slovick said.

Scott Slovick says nurses are grateful for all of the grass roots efforts to make homemade masks.

“We are so grateful for the people reaching out with those. A face mask, a cloth face mask is better than not having any mask,” Scott Slovick said.  ​

But what they need is their employers and local lawmakers to start going to bat for them. ​

“One thing folks could do is we do have a site people can go to called, protectnurses.org and there’s a petition going to congress that demands nurses be protected during COVID-19 and remember protecting us protects you,” Scott Slovick said. “We wanna be a part of the solution, not the problem. Our hospitals have the ethical and legal responsibility to help protect us and also protect the patients that are in this situation because if we aren’t there to take care of them, who’s gonna protect our patients?” ​

Meanwhile, Governor Newsom says he has requested more than 20 million N95 masks for the state.

For more information, visit the National Nurses United website.

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