Filipino nurses join Bay Area protests calling for proper safety gear for frontliners

SOUTH SAN FRANCISCO, CA — Amid the coronavirus pandemic, nurses and other healthcare workers in the San Francisco are sending a clear message to their hospitals and elected leaders: they need to be protected.

Employees of Kaiser Permanente in South San Francisco held a protest Monday morning to demand that they be provided proper gear so they can safely treat patients, particularly with COVID-19.

“Before we used the N-95 mass that actually filters 95% of the small particles, in order to prevent it from going towards your nose and mouth. Now we just use a surgical mask, that we don’t even know what it can filter,” said RN Eunice Balancio.

These nurses also pointed out that the messaging on precaution is not clear.

“Cal OSHA said that we need an airborne precaution and use an N-95 but the CDC keeps lowering or loosening their standards from airborne precaution that we need a negative pressure room to prevent contamination by going room to room to just droplet and contact isolations.”

While the nurses said that they are finding it more and more difficult to do their jobs — they stressed that they’re not going to give up on their patients.

“We knew what we signed up for when we became nurses. But what we did not sign up for is to be in the middle of this pandemic without proper protection.”

ABS-CBN has reached out to Kaiser Permanente’s media relations for a response. They have yet to comment.

Meanwhile, Bay Area hospitals are asking that all extra gear from battling the Northern California wildfires —  like N-95 masks, gloves, goggles, face shields, and others — be dropped off to various health centers so they can be used by frontliners of the coronavirus crisis.

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