TAMPA, Fla. — Registered nurses across seven states, including right here in the Tampa Bay area, are planning to protest Wednesday and Thursday over the lack of preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic.
National Nurses United (NNU) announced the protests Wednesday morning. NNU says it represents 10,000 RNs at 19 HCA hospitals in California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Texas.
NNU says the lack of preparedness places nurses, other staff and patients at risk.
“We are facing the gravest public health crisis in a century,” said Gary Mousseau, RN, Endoscopy, Fawcett Memorial Hospital, Port Charlotte, Fla. “As nurses at HCA health care facilities across the country, it has been disheartening to see HCA’s poor response to our safety concerns.”
In Florida, the protests are to take place at Oak Hill Hospital, Central Florida Regional Hospital, Blake Medical Center, Doctors Hospital of Sarasota, Medical Center of Trinity, Osceola Regional Medical Center and Fawcett Memorial Hospital.
According to a press release, a nurse at Blake Medical reported being sent home for bringing their own N95 mask, and another said they were told to enter the room of a patent under investigation without an N95 even though all other employees in the room had them.
The release also says 18 nurses at Doctors Hospital of Sarasota were quarantined after getting exposed because a negative pressure room was not working. However, after reaching out to Doctors Hospital of Sarasota they told ABC Action News, "The information contained in the National Nurses United press release is not true. This is not the time to create conflict and dissension within healthcare organizations that are doing everything possible to protect caregivers and patients. This is the time to depend on each other, trusting that we are doing everything possible for each other to come together and deliver on our mission."
The Florida protests will take place:
- Fawcett Memorial Hospital
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m., 21298 Olean Blvd, Port Charlotte, Fla.
- Medical Center of Trinity
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m., 9330 State Road 54, Trinity, Fla.
- Osceola Regional Medical Center
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m., 700 West Oak St., Kissimmee, Fla.
- Oak Hill Hospital
6:30 a.m. - 8:00 a.m., 11375 Cortez Blvd, Spring Hill, Fla.
- Central Florida Regional Hospital
6:30 a.m. -8:00 a.m., 1401 W. Seminole Blvd., Sanford, Fla.
- Blake Medical Center
6:30 a.m. -8:00 a.m., 2020 59th St., Bradenton, Fla.
- Doctors Hospital of Sarasota
6:30 p.m. -8:00 p.m., 5731 Bee Ridge Rd., Sarasota, Fla.
“Nurses at various HCA hospitals are reporting that they have had to work without proper protective equipment,” said Jean Ross, RN, president of National Nurses United. “Nurses say they are not informed when they exposed to an infected patient. They are told to unsafely reuse masks and at one hospital they are even being told not to wear masks because it ‘scared the patients.’”
NNU says nurses are demanding HCA provide PPE for nurses and other staff. That includes N95 respirators or the more protective powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs), and other head-to-toe coverings.
“Protecting our patients is our highest priority, but it becomes much harder when we don’t have the safe protections which puts us in danger of becoming infected,” said Angela Davis, RN, Medical Intensive Care Unit, a dedicated COVID-19 unit, at Research Medical Center Kansas City, Mo. “If we are no longer able to be at the bedside, who will be there to care for our patients?”
NNU says HCA can afford to be properly prepared, citing profits of more than $23 billion.
“For the wealthiest hospital corporation in the United States to show such disregard for the health and safety of its caregivers, is disgraceful and unconscionable,” said Ross.
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HCA released this statement on Thursday.
“HCA Healthcare’s hospitals in Central Florida are doing everything they can to equip their patient care teams to provide safe, effective care to the people we serve, unwavering in our dedication despite the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. The National Nurses Union is trying to use this crisis to advance its own interest—organizing more members.
Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal has been to protect our frontline clinicians and caregivers so they are able to continue to care for our patients and community. The pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, and gowns, a challenge that is not unique to our hospitals or any other hospital or health system in the United States. While our HCA Healthcare hospitals are doing everything in our power to secure additional supplies, and we are following CDC protocols for using and conserving PPE, the worldwide shortage is a reality that we are addressing with realistic, workable solutions. The steps we have taken include:
· Enacting universal masking for all of our employees
· Appointing a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for COVID-19 where and when it is needed most
· Creating strategically located PPE distribution centers across our campus to quickly deliver equipment
We also have taken steps to help protect the financial security of our front-line caregivers and their support colleagues, including a “pandemic pay continuation” policy even as other health care systems have announced layoffs. For colleagues with reduced hours, the company will seek to redeploy them to other opportunities so they can continue working. Those who cannot be redeployed will continue to receive 70 percent of base pay for up to seven weeks. For colleagues working in patient care facilities who are quarantined per CDC guidelines, we will pay 100 percent of base pay for scheduled hours regardless of where the exposure took place.
In addition, we will offer scrub laundering for colleagues who care for COVID-19 patients. In addition, we are working with major hotel chains to provide housing for caregivers who provide care to COVID-19 patients and prefer not to go home to their loved ones after their shift. The COVID-19 pandemic is unique, and our colleagues’ concerns are real. In this unparalleled crisis, everyone should stand together to support our nurses, and not spread misinformation and fear to advance other agendas.”