SANTA MONICA, CA — From coast to coast, nurses have been voicing their frustrations over the shortage of masks and other personal protective equipment — as they continue to treat patients during the coronavirus pandemic.
In California, that battle has taken another twist — 10 nurses, including 2 Filipinos, were recently suspended from their work.
Nurse Allison Mayol and 9 others were placed on suspension at Providence St. John hospital for refusing to work.
However, Mayol and her fellow nurses, who have been calling attention to the lack of PPEs, said there’s more to the story.
“So the hospital is saying that we are suspended for refusing our assignments, but we’re not refusing our assignments. We’re just doing our best to not work in unsafe environments, we are trying to not contract this disease. We’re trying to keep us safe, and our patients safe, and our community safe.”
Their concerns were especially heightened after a nurse on their floor, which handles COVID cases, tested positive for the virus.
“The following day, 5 different doctors came to tell our nurses, hey I would not go in that room without an N95 mask — so our doctors were going into the rooms to speak with the patients, treat the patients, but we were still not. At that point, nurses said I don’t feel safe going in there without an N-95 or a respirator.”
The nurses’ suspension has resulted in rallies outside of the hospital campus, and has continued to add fuel to ongoing nationwide actions calling for hospitals to better equip nurses.
While the hospital has not spoken about the suspensions, it did say that it is following the same guidelines followed by most U.S. hospitals, and it has received an increase in PPE inventory.
After the suspensions, the hospital had also begun a new disinfecting process to improve its supplies.
“We’re kind of nervous, we know we did the right thing, by standing up for our safety, for advocating for other nurses who deserve proper protective equipment, advocating for patients who deserve their nurses to be in good conditions — because if your nurses aren’t protected, your patients aren’t protected. sSo we have the confidence we did the right thing, obviously it’s so scary.”
While Mayol and the other suspended nurses wait for the hospital’s human resources and their union, the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, to determine their fate, they said the community can continue to help support nurses, by helping push for legislation through protectnurses.org.
She added that others looking to donate personal protective equipment should give equipment to nurses that they know personally.