A new survey has found that the vast majority of nurses across the country are still having to reuse personal protective equipment that is designed to be single use, including masks and face shields.
PPE shortages have plagued Maine’s front line workers since early in the coronavirus crisis, but despite governors and health care workers sounding the alarm on shortages, Trump failed to take early action to ramp up PPE production and gave states inaccurate information about how PPE reserves were distributed. The lack of a coordinated federal response to deal with PPE shortages forced states to bid against each other for desperately needed equipment and drove up the costs of lifesaving items like N-95 masks.
Despite Trump’s failure to ensure that health care workers in Maine and across the country have the protective equipment they need, Senator Collins has defended his response to the coronavirus pandemic, claiming he “did a lot that was right in the beginning.” Months into this crisis, even after every other member of Maine’s Congressional delegation has called for more transparency from the administration, Collins has done nothing to hold Trump accountable. Will she finally step up and start fighting for Maine’s nurses?
“Our nation’s nurses are on the front lines of this crisis and they deserve our support and our respect,” said Maine Democratic Party Chair Kathleen Marra. “The fact that they are still forced to contend with PPE shortages is reprehensible. Trump has failed our health care workers and it’s long past time for Susan Collins to hold him accountable.”
By Jessica Glenza
May 20, 2020
The vast majority of America’s nurses say they have not been tested for Covid-19, are reusing personal protective equipment (PPE), or have exposed skin or clothing while caring for Covid-19 patients, a new survey has shown.
The nationally representative survey finds that “dangerous healthcare workplace conditions have become the norm” since Covid-19 spread widely in the US, said the union which conducted the survey. More than 100 nurses have died since the beginning of the pandemic.
The survey asked more than 23,000 nurses across all 50 states and Washington DC about their working conditions since the pandemic began. The survey represents the period between 15 April and 10 May, and was conducted by National Nurses United. It included both union and non-union nurses.
In it, surveyors found 84% of nurses had not been tested for Covid-19, 87% are forced to reuse personal protective equipment designed to be single-use, such as N95 masks and face shields, and 72% of nurses have exposed skin or clothing while treating coronavirus patients.
Nurses have staged multiple, ongoing protests for more personal protective equipment since the pandemic began. In viral images, nurses have been shown wearing makeshift gowns including rain ponchos, using the same N95 mask for weeks and have described severe rationing.
At the same time, lack of a cohesive national strategy has left many states bidding amongst themselves for gear, driven up the price of N95 masks, and caused some states and hospitals to turn to billionaires for help.
“Nurses signed up to care for their patients,” said Bonnie Castillo, NNU executive director and a registered nurse. “They did not sign up to die needlessly on the front lines of a pandemic. Our message to employers and the Trump administration is: platitudes are empty without protections. For our sake, for the public’s sake: give us PPE.”