Nurses are not getting the protection they need and no one seems to care

Nurses are not getting the protection they need to care for COVID patients, and no one seems to care. Where is the outrage? Nurses are at the COVID patients’ bedside 24/7.

We all know the medical staff is not wearing the proper gear at all. If supplies were adequate and protocols were being followed,  they would be wearing N95 masks or PAPRs. If they do have N95s, they are being told to wear them all shift, 8 to 12 hours or more.  Many wear simple masks.

According to the Guardian, in some states, 20 percent of the cases are health care workers. They are housekeepers, nurses, nursing assistants, doctors.  They are dying because they do not have adequate protection. That is the bottom line. We, as a society, are willing to sacrifice a certain amount of medical staff to the coronavirus.

Nurses are being suspended for refusing to care for patients without the proper mask. All staff in hospitals have been threatened with a loss of their jobs if they speak to anyone about conditions in the hospital.

Nurses are being told to continue working if they are positive for COVID 19, especially if they have mild or no symptoms. With a lack of proper PPE, they are endangering everyone else in the hospital.  Oh well, no one cares anyway.

Nurses have an increased workload. Most ICUs have a 2:1 nurse patio patient ratio in normal times. That has increased to 3-4:1, all of the patients intubated. They are not able to provide basic care. Patients deteriorate quickly with this disease.  Nurses and doctors rush to try and save a patient. Alarms sound on another of one of those nurses’ patients.  They have arrested. Now what?

These situations are only made worse by health care workers getting sick themselves: less staff, more burden on those remaining.

It is obvious there has been a massive failure of our government. It is disgraceful. There is absolutely no reason that this country does not have proper PPE.  This should be the main focus of our government in this situation. Buy what’s needed from anywhere they can get at any price.  This is not rocket science. Without health care workers, there is no one to care for the sick, and the rest of it makes no difference.

The public and health care workers need to take responsibility for this too. Medical staff should organize themselves. They should refuse to care for patients without adequate protection.  I can hear you thinking: We can’t do that! Who will take care of the patients?! There are ways of organizing action that keeps patients safe.  Health care workers should be outside hospitals, protesting a lack of PPE. Threaten to walk off the job. Educate the public about conditions in hospitals.  The press would be there in a heartbeat. If this happened across the country, a message would be sent.

This your life we’re talking about.

For the longest time, medical staff, and nurses, in particular, have been willing to put up with being treated like they are less than nothing in hospitals. It’s time for that to stop.

If health care workers stood up, the public would follow and demand proper supplies for staff.  It is in their own self-interest.

The Guardian newspaper that I referred to earlier has partnered with Kaiser Health News to publish names of health care workers who have died and give a little information about them. Here are the names and jobs of those in the article:

J. Ronald Verrier 59, surgeon
Vianna Thompson, 52, nurse
Alvin Simmons, 54, environmental services
Daisy Doronila, 60, nurse
Jeff Baumbach, 57, nurse
Debbie Accad, 72, clinical nursing coordinator

They made the ultimate sacrifice.

Susan Shannon is a retired nurse who blogs at madness: tales of a retired emergency room nurse.

Image credit: Shutterstock.com

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