California respiratory professionals demand same PPE as physicians, nurses

More than 400 respiratory care practitioners and respiratory therapists across California say they do not have adequate safety protections and need the same protections as physicians and nurses in their hospital, according to the SEIU United Healthcare Workers West union.

In a letter sent to CEOs of more than 70 California hospitals, the respiratory professionals noted the importance of personal protective equipment in preventing infection.

However, "many of us are not being issued crucial PPE — including N95 masks, face shields, eye protection, nitrile gloves and isolation gowns — during procedures such as intubation that normally require such equipment because of the high infection risk," they wrote.

The respiratory care practitioners and respiratory therapists said some of them have even been refused N95 masks and other PPE worn by physicians and nurses.  

Their letter calls on hospitals to provide respiratory care practitioners and respiratory therapists the same PPE that nurses and physicians have for any given procedure, and to respect their input regarding treatment of COVID-19 patients.

In response to the letter, the California Hospital Association emphasized the importance of worker safety.

"There is nothing more important to hospitals than the health and safety of the dedicated people who keep hospitals open and operating 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Without our employees, hospitals would be unable to care for our patients and our communities," the association told Becker's.

"In the midst of a global shortage of personal protective equipment, hospitals are diligently following the guidance of the CDC, the California Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA to ensure that all front-line health care workers and patients are properly protected during this unprecedented crisis," the statement added. "We appreciate the state's ongoing efforts to secure scarce PPE supplies on behalf of all healthcare professionals."


More articles on workforce:
How Memorial Hermann is ensuring its 29,000 employees are healthy and safe
Delaware nurse walks away from job over alleged lack of protections
COVID-19 & healthcare professionals: What the latest CDC data shows 

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