FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Rick Fuentes
(St. Paul) – May 9, 2020 – Faced with a continued lack of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), rising COVID-19 patient levels, and resumption of elective surgeries, nurse members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have announced an intention to march in St. Paul on May 20, 2020. MNA members will demand equipment, training, staffing, and transparency from United Hospital and other hospitals as well as for the Minnesota Department of Health to enforce the highest standards of safety and protection for patients and healthcare workers.
“Hospital management has been unresponsive to nurses’ concerns,” said Brittany Livaccari, Registered Nurse at United. “Nurses have asked, pleaded, and finally just grabbed scrubs to protect themselves and their families from this horrible virus. And our nurses are being disciplined.”
At United, several RNs were given non-disciplinary counselings for wearing hospital-provided scrubs. A few have been issued disciplinary notices, and, so far, one has been terminated. Several RNs were docked pay, in violation of the Fair Labor Standards Act, because management chose to spend an hour yelling at nurses who were asking for scrubs rather than providing the scrubs.
“All over Minnesota, nurses are being forced to utilize unsafe practices,” said Mary C. Turner, an intensive care unit nurse at North Memorial Health and MNA President. “At my hospital, nurses are re-using gowns and masks, that until recently, we threw away. Yet, we’re told they’re safe now. This is crazy in a state where we pride ourselves on delivering the best care. We’ve relaxed our standards when we should be setting them by protecting our workers and our patients.”
Nurses opposed Governor Tim Walz’s Executive Order allowing for the resumption of elective procedures until hospitals can show PPE resources have been obtained and healthcare workers’ exposure is minimized.
Nurses will march from United Hospital to the State Capitol while practicing appropriate social distancing. They will deliver a Pandemic Bill of Rights Petition with more than 10,000 signatures to demand the Minnesota Department of Health protect workers and patients. MNA will file the appropriate notices with Allina Health and United Hospital for an informational picket, not a work stoppage, as no nurses will leave their jobs to participate in the march.
“Minnesota is falling short,” Turner said. “We are not protecting the very people who are caring for Minnesotans. Nurses and hospital workers need to be there as this pandemic spikes, and it’s going to be all hands on deck. The effect of these policies is not just numbers, it’s lives.”