Nurses vow to file OSHA complaints over Ebola preparedness

Nurses and other healthcare workers urged the state to live up to its responsibility to protect front-line healthcare workers dealing with Ebola and other infectious diseases at a Nov. 12 rally and candlelight vigil on the front lawn of the State Capitol.

Nurses and other healthcare workers spoke about their experiences and concerns about their hospitals’ different levels of preparedness for caring for patients who may have infectious diseases like Ebola.

“At my hospital, we do have some equipment and we have had some training – but it’s just not enough,” said Gail Olson, RN at Unity Hospital. “Nurses keep asking the hospital for more because we know what we have is too little. Nurses want to care for every patient – with Ebola, any infectious disease – any health problem. We just need to know we have the equipment and training to safely care for our patients.”

“We’re calling on government and hospitals to do the right thing:  Provide the optimal equipment, training and staffing and we’ll be able to deal with anything,” said National Nurses United Co-President and Minnesota nurse Jean Ross. “We just need to be sure we can do it safely – and go home to our families knowing we’re not putting them in danger – or our neighbors and communities.”

“The state of Minnesota needs to set a standard for hospitals that protects everybody,” said Mary McGibbon, RN at Methodist Hospital and MNA  first vice president. “The state needs to enforce OSHA guidelines on bloodborne diseases that are already in place. If I’m not protected, my patients aren’t protected either.”

McGibbon called on nurses who believe their hospitals are not prepared to file complaints with Minnesota OSHA. “You have a right to file and complaint and ask them to come to your hospital to see if the equipment and preparedness plan meet federal and state law.

The rally and candlelight vigil were part of the National Day of Ebola Preparedness, when thousands of nurses and other healthcare workers across the country are holding public events to demand optimal protective equipment, training, and staffing to make sure healthcare workers are safe as they care for their patients.

View a video from the event here.