California nurses get their N95 masks after suspensions spark protest

Anuja Vaidya (Twitter) - Print  | 

Providence Saint John's Health Center is providing N95 masks to all its workers providing care for patients with suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 after the suspension of 10 nurses sparked a protest last weekend, a union representing 150,000 nurses announced

"It's a victory," said Chelsea Halmy, RN, a nurse who works in the Santa Monica, Calif., hospital's COVID-19 unit and is suspended. "They're finally doing what they should have been doing in the first place."

In the last week, about 15 nurses at the hospital had refused to take on care assignments for coronavirus patients unless they were issued N95 masks, and 10 of them were suspended, according to the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United. About 50 nurses held a protest April 11, while maintaining social distance, against the facility's infection control practices.

On April 14, the hospital said that healthcare workers throughout the Renton, Wash.-based Providence system will be issued N95 masks when caring for potential or confirmed COVID-19 patients.

Before the protest, the union said nurses had been issued surgical masks "that do not offer airborne protection as required by California’s Cal-OSHA aerosol transmissible diseases standard."

The 10 nurses are still suspended and awaiting hearings.

Providence Saint John's Health Center did not respond to Becker's request for a statement, but in a statement provided to Time Magazine said that it had increased its supply of masks and was disinfecting them daily.

"It's no secret there is a national shortage," the statement reads, according to Time.

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COVID-19 & healthcare professionals: What the latest CDC data shows 

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