I-Team: Nurses protest, concerned about work conditions

I-Team

LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — Southern Nevada hospitals are seeing a surge of COVID-19 patients, and some nurses are trying to send a message to administration.

The I-Team has been receiving information from hospital insiders.

Usually, healthcare workers are hesitant to speak publicly about work conditions for fear of losing their jobs. But today, a group of nurses sounded the alarm.

“We’ve been calling them saints, literal human saints,” said Shaun Singer, son of a COVID-19 patient.

Singer’s father is in the intensive care unit at St. Rose Dominican Hospital. Wednesday morning, nurses at the facility were protesting.

“We want to take care of our patients, but to do that, we want to be safe in doing so,” said Zachary Pritchett, a registered nurse.

Pritchett is a union representative for National Nurses United, which announced this National Day of Action with 200 protests across the country.

“I think a lot of the staff feel completely forgotten and abandoned by our leadership,” he said.

Pritchett and his co-workers are calling for better communication and more adequate personal protective equipment, or PPE. Another concern is the nurse to patient ratio.

“I work in the intensive care unit, where nurses normally staff between one and two patients, and right now, we’re working in taking care of three patients a piece,” he explained. “And when you take care of three patients, it’s very hard to give adequate attention to those patients in those critical settings.”

The I-Team reached out to St. Rose Hospital, and a representative provided this statement:

These are unprecedented times in healthcare and we are thankful to be working with the dedicated health care professionals at Siena. Safely providing care is our top priority. We are confident we have the people, equipment, and resources to safely care for all of our patients, including COVID-19 patients.

We continue to monitor the evolving COVID-19 situation and adapt our services and operations as needed, sometimes on a daily basis. Nurses working additional shifts and in critical care areas are compensated with Incentive Pay.  We also continue to work with Traveling Nurse agencies to secure available staffing resources to safely cover shifts as needed.

This is a challenge facing hospitals around the state and the country. We are working across our organization, with community partners, and with local and state health officials to identify additional staffing resources.

We provide appropriate PPE to every staff member working in our hospitals and have gone to great lengths to ensure we have adequate supplies for all of our staff and clinicians. We continue to follow CDC guidance and guidance from state health agencies to safely protect health care professionals across our entire organization.

Dignity Health-St. Rose Dominican Hospitals spokesperson

We have learned hospitals in Southern Nevada are trying to keep up with the recent surge of patients with the virus.

According to the Nevada Hospital Association, as of Tuesday, hospital beds in Clark County are 83% full, and 56% of ventilators are in use.

While visitor policies are being restricted, Singer hasn’t been able to visit his dad. He says he’s relying on medical staff, like nurses, for information.

“They’re the heroes of society,” Singer said. “What they need or what they feel they need to do their job safely or to do their job more successfully … I couldn’t imagine. I couldn’t imagine a request too large.”

The I-Team reached out to the Nevada Hospital Association for an interview about the COVID-19 situation inside hospitals right now and did not receive a response.

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