Nurse Mike Gulick and colleagues at California’s Providence Saint John’s Health Centre suspended for refusing to work coronavirus frontline without N95 masks.
It was inevitable wasn’t it…?
Nurse Mike Gulick and a handful of colleagues at Providence Saint John’s Health Centre in Santa Monica, told their managers they wouldn’t enter COVID-19 patient rooms without N95 masks.
A report via AP told of Gulick expressing concerns to management of potentially infecting his wife and their two year old daughter. In a bid to stave possible contraction, Gulick would stop at a hotel after work just to take a shower. He’d wash his clothes in Lysol disinfectant.
Despite all the above precaution, Nick and fellow workers, worried that caring for infected patients without first being able to don an N95 respirator mask was risky.
The N95 mask filters out 95% of all airborne particles, but hospital administrators said they weren’t necessary and didn’t provide them.
The final straw for Nick came last week when a nurse on Gulick’s ward tested positive for the coronavirus, which causes the disease COVID-19. The next day doctors doing rounds on their ward asked the nurses why they weren’t wearing N95 masks, Gulick said, and told them they should have better protection.
The nurses in turn went on strike, leading to the hospital suspending the group, according to the National Nurses Union.
Ten nurses are now being paid but not allowed to return to work pending an investigation from human resources, the union said.
They are among hundreds of doctors, nurses and other health care workers across the country who say they’ve been asked to work without adequate protection. Some have taken part in protests or lodged formal complaints. Others are buying – or even making – their own supplies.
While guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) don’t require N95 masks for COVID-19 caregivers, many hospitals are opting for the added protection because the infection has proven to be extremely contagious.
Saint John’s in a statement said as of Tuesday it’s providing N95 masks to all nurses caring for COVID-19 patients and those awaiting test results. The statement said the hospital had increased its supply and was disinfecting masks daily.
‘It’s no secret there is a national shortage,’ said the statement. The hospital would not comment on the suspended nurses.
Come Wednesday, the CDCP said at least 9,200 health care workers have been infected, with some having even passed away as previously reported below: