HCA nurse protests slam hospital preparation for COVID-19

Registered nurses in seven states protested this week at 15 HCA Healthcare hospitals over what they say is a lack of COVID-19 preparedness, according to the union that represents them. 

National Nurses United, which claims more than 150,000 members nationwide, said it wants Nashville, Tenn.-based HCA to provide healthcare workers with optimal personal protective equipment such as N95 respirators or powered air-purifying respirators and other head-to-toe coverings. 

"Nurses at various HCA hospitals are reporting that they have had to work without proper protective equipment," Jean Ross, RN, president of National Nurses Unite said in a news release.

"Nurses say they are not informed when they are exposed to an infected patient," she said. "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."

Registered nurses protested April 1 at facilities in California, Florida, Missouri, Nevada, Texas. Protesting also occurred April 2 at additional Texas and Florida facilities. 

Separately, registered nurses at HCA's Mission Hospital in Asheville, N.C., delivered a petition to hospital officials April 2 expressing their concerns, according to NNU.

HCA, a for-profit hospital operator, pointed to its efforts to equip healthcare workers to provide safe, effective care, and accused the union of "trying to use this crisis to advance its own interest — organizing more members."

"The pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment, including masks, face shields and gowns, a challenge that is not unique to HCA Healthcare or any other health system in the United States," a statement from HCA said.

"While we 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," HCA added.

HCA said these steps include enacting universal masking for employees; appointing personal protective equipment  stewards in hospitals; and creating strategically located personal protective equipment distribution centers on hospital campuses. The hospital operator said it also has staffing contingency plans to ensure hospitals are prepared for an influx in patients; is ensuring pay for healthcare workers during the pandemic; and is offering scrub-laundering for workers who care for COVID-19 patients.

A full list of protests is available here

 

More articles on human resources:
Hearing on unionization at HCA's Mission Health pushed to April 6
Hospitals and unions: 5 recent conflicts, agreements
Nevada county suspends union contract for University Medical Center workers

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