LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — As state leaders tackle a lack of protective medical equipment, local nurses joined union members across the country Wednesday, giving fellow healthcare workers a chance to report experiences giving COVID-19 care.
“If the nurses and the healthcare workers aren’t safe,” Mountain View Hospital Registered Nurse Nicole Koester told 8 News Now. “The patients aren’t safe.”
Koester also acts as a representative for National Nurses United. She joined other local union members as they conducted surveys outside MountainView Hospital.
They told 8 News Now the hospital’s parent company, HCA Healthcare, isn’t properly prepared for the pandemic.
NNU members asked employees questions regarding COVID-19 patient isolation, supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), notifications about COVID-19 cases, adequate staffing, adequate testing, and whether nurses with symptoms are placed on proper leave.
“I am concerned about cross-contamination,” MountainView Hospital Registered Nurse and NNU Chief Union Representative Dina Armstrong said of her experience with a lack of personal protective equipment.
“We are not here to create some kind of chaos,” Armstrong added. “We are here to work with our administration for the safety of our nurses.”
MountainView Hospital CEO Jeremy Bradshaw issued the following statement in response to Wednesday’s actions:
“This is not a time to create conflict and dissention within healthcare organizations that are doing everything possible to protect caregivers and patients. This is the time to depend on each other, trusting that we are doing everything possible for each other to come together as HCA Healthcare Family and deliver on our mission.
MountainView Hospital, a part of HCA Healthcare, is deeply committed to protecting colleagues and our patients every day, including when faced with this unprecedented medical crisis.
We are aware that external organizations, including the NNU, are speaking out on issues of PPE. It is our belief that they are adding to the confusion, misinformation and fear spreading across the industry in the United States.
The truth is that we’ve continued to follow CDC protocols for PPE as the preemptive and global authority. While others attempt to distract or scare us, we will remain committed to keeping focus on our employees and patients.
Across the globe, this pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of PPE as COVID-19 cases and utilization of PPE exceed the ability of suppliers to manufacture PPE. This is not a challenge that is unique to MountainView Hospital, HCA Healthcare or any other hospital or health system in the United States. We have taken the following actions regarding the provision of PPE and pay for our nurses and care team:
– Enacted universal masking for all of our employees
– Appointing a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for COVID-19 where and when it is needed most
– Creating strategically located PPE distribution centers across our campuses to quickly deliver equipment
– Established pandemic pay continuation programs
Our belief is that the NNU’s real motive here today has nothing to do with keeping our nurses protected but is wholly centered on the expiration of their collective bargaining agreement with us, which expired March 31. In addition, per today’s stay-at-home order from the Nevada Governor, we feel gatherings such as the NNU protests directly put our employees, hospitals and the community at large in harm’s way and is a violation of the order.
MountainView, and HCA as a whole, is doing everything it can to equip its patient care teams to provide safe, effective care to the people of Las Vegas, unwavering in our dedication to improve the health of those in our community, protect our patient care colleagues, and navigate the unique challenges presented by COVID-19. We stand ready. We stand together.”Jeremy Bradshaw, MountainView Hospital CEO
However, NNU nurses told 8 News Now these actions he stated aren’t enough to protect employees and patients.
“We are going to be spreading it like wildfire,” Koester explained of the virus. “When the public is trying to stay home and stay away from each other.”
They said they won’t stop pushing for what they call a better solution.
“Try harder, do more, find a way,” Koester concluded, speaking directly to HCA Healthcare.
Though MountainView Hospital said it is following current CDC guidelines in regards to PPE, testing and isolation procedures, NNU members told 8 News Now hospitals shouldn’t be following these directives, citing a reuse of supplies to treat COVID-19.
NNU members are holding 15 similar survey type events across seven states, all at HCA Healthcare hospitals.