UIC Medical Center asks nurses to clean COVID-19 patients' rooms

The University of Illinois at Chicago Medical Center is asking nurses to perform some cleaning duties in COVID-19 patients' rooms in place of housekeepers, reports CBS Chicago.

In a March 21 memo to staff, hospital leaders instructed nurses to clean and disinfect surfaces, empty the trash and remove linens from these rooms. Leaders said members of environmental services should not be in the same room as a COVID-19 patient. Instead, housekeepers will disinfect the rooms — while wearing personal protective equipment — when patients leave. 

The Illinois Nurses Association is urging UIC Medical Center to reconsider this new policy, arguing it places additional burden on nurses who already have a large workload. 

"They're doing as much as they can to take care of their patients and then you have the housekeeping duties on top of that," Terrence Yee, BSN, RN, a nurse at the hospital and president of the union, told CBS Chicago.

The hospital is temporarily consolidating and reassigning many tasks to limit the use of PPE and the number of staff exposed to COVID-10 patients, according to Susan Bleasdale, MD, medical director of infection prevention at UI Health.

"Given our current availability of PPE, our volume of patients and our ability to track staff entering rooms, properly trained EVS staff who have been fit-tested with N95 respirators are cleaning and disinfecting the rooms of patients with COVID-19," Dr. Bleasdale said in an emailed statement to Becker's. "As we have increased cases and work load on our staff, we are expanding training to our EVS staff to assist with room cleaning and disinfection, but we will continue to try to minimize the number of staff entering and the number of room entries to limit the spread of COVID-19."

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