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Local nurses want optimal PPE equipment to protect them against COVID-19

Nurses protest at Medical Center of Trinity
Posted at 10:52 PM, Apr 01, 2020

TRINITY, Fla. -- Local nurses tell ABC Action News they feel uneasy about going to work during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mary Dechari works at ER 24/7 in Palm Harbor, a free-standing outpatient emergency room and a department of Medical Center of Trinity.

"It's an uneasy time. I have a sister that is taking care of COVID-19 patients in New York. I hear from her. I'm scared for her and scared for everyone in the EMS profession right now...in emergency medicine," said Mary Dechari.

RELATED: Nurses across 7 states, including Florida, protest lack of COVID-19 preparedness

Dechari said policies differ from shift to shift and she reuses masks.

"One day, we come in and we're given like a level-three surgical mask and we're asked to use that for a 12 hour period of time. The next night I came in and I was issued an N95 mask, which is the mask we're trying to get, or something better for a 12 hour shift," said Dechari.

National Nurses United, the largest and fastest-growing union, represents 10,000 RNs at 19 HCA hospitals in California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Texas.

NNU is demanding that HCA Healthcare needs to provide the optimal personal protective equipment for nurses and other staff.

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Registered nurses protested on Wednesday and several protests are planned at hospitals in several states on Thursday, April 2.

On Wednesday, local nurses stood outside Medical Center of Trinity asking fellow nurses if they felt safe going to work.

"We're going to be asking them, 'Do you feel safe with our level of protection? Do you think everything is being done? Are the patients that are supposed to be in isolation in isolation? Are you endangering yourself and your families by going to work every day?'" said Rosanne O'Malley, nurse.

Dechari said she would like to wear an N95 mask every shift, but it's not always an option.

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"Three days in a row on a shift, I get three different policies every day," said Dechari.

"I was issued one for my shift Saturday night and we're not supposed to use these now unless we have a patient that we actively think has the COVID virus," she said as she held an N95 mask.

A spokesperson for Medical Center of Trinity sent ABC Action News the following statement:

"The information contained in the National Nurses United press release that has been forwarded is not accurate for Medical Center of Trinity. 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."