California Nurses Association endorses state law requiring hospitals to keep 3-month PPE stockpiles

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The California Nurses Association issued a statement March 31 saying it welcomes a new state law requiring hospitals to maintain three-month stockpiles of personal protective equipment. 

The law, signed in September 2020, goes into effect April 1 and requires hospitals to maintain a stockpile of new and unexpired PPE and establish effective written procedures for periodically determining the quantity and types of PPE used in its normal consumption. 

Hospitals are also required to provide an inventory of their stockpiles to the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health upon request, and they face a civil penalty of up to $25,000 for a violation of the law. 

"Hospitals across the country failed to provide nurses and other health care workers with optimal PPE when Covid-19 hit and the consequences were devastating and deadly," Cathy Kennedy, RN, a president of the California Nurses Association, said in a statement shared with Becker's

Ms. Kennedy noted that at least 360 nurses have died from COVID-19 and tens of thousands more became sick during the pandemic. 

"Hospitals have a responsibility to ensure that their employees have the equipment they need to stay safe. This new law is an important step in holding hospitals accountable and protecting nurses and other health care workers," she added. 

Some smaller, rural hospitals have expressed concern that they don't have the purchasing power or storage capacity to follow the new law. Heather Loose, an infection preventionist at Bear Valley Community Hospital, a small hospital on top of a mountain in Big Bear Lake, Calif., told Becker's that before the pandemic, her hospital normally had about a month and a half of PPE on hand. 

"We would probably have to expand our storage somehow to keep three months of PPE. I think we can barely get three months, but that's three months of reusing supplies," Ms. Loose said. 

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