FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rick Fuentes
(St. Paul) – March 13, 2020 – Nurses on the front lines of treating patients are urging all healthcare facilities to adopt stronger standards for protection of workers against the Coronavirus (COVID-19). In ongoing surveys of Minnesota Nurses, the vast majority are reporting that their hospitals are not providing the appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) to prevent spread of the virus to healthcare workers.
“Now is not the time to get it half-right,” said MNA President Mary C. Turner. “The difference between optimal measures and sub-optimal is lives at stake, people affected, and hospitals full of patients. If nurses are not protected, there will be no nurses to care for patients.”
MNA nurses point to the science showing that COVID-19 is spread through both airborne and fluid contact, which means the highest levels of prevention need to be taken. The public can protect themselves by following the MDH’s community mitigation measures. This includes handwashing, covering their mouths, and avoiding large, crowded events. We also urge those planning large events to postpone them and ask that workplaces arrange for employees to work from home.
Healthcare workers, however, can’t avoid the public, and they need the highest levels of precautions, personal protective equipment (PPE), and training.
“Nurses are shocked at the recent relaxing of CDC guidelines on using PPE,” Turner said. “This is a time to firm up practices. To make sure we’re using only the safest equipment, like the N95 mask. And to make sure we’ve got plans on isolating suspected positive patients.”
The CDC recently rolled back guidelines on PPE to promote using the looser, ill-fitting surgical masks instead of more protective N95 mask. Nurses are also concerned the CDC is no longer recommending moving suspected or positive infectious patients to isolation rooms. Minnesota lawmakers and healthcare facilities, however, have the ability to provide stronger protections for healthcare workers.
“We urge lawmakers to stand with nurses in mandating healthcare facilities enforce stricter protections for healthcare workers,” Turner said. “Without optimal protection, healthcare workers will further the spread of the illness.”