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Survey Finds 87% of America’s Nurses Forced to Reuse Protective Equipment - News - Nursesarena Forum

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Survey Finds 87% of America’s Nurses Forced to Reuse Protective Equipment by katty : May 27, 2020, 06:40:07 AM
The vast majority of America’s nurses say they have not been tested for Covid-19, are reusing personal protective equipment (PPE), or have exposed skin or clothing while caring for Covid-19 patients, a new survey has shown.

The nationally representative survey finds that “dangerous healthcare workplace conditions have become the norm” since Covid-19 spread widely in the US, said the union which conducted the survey. More than 100 nurses have died since the beginning of the pandemic.

“We’ve known for years we’re behind,” said Jean Ross, president of National Nurses United. “Not because we couldn’t have what we needed – because we are the richest country on the planet – but because of greed, because of the profit system that doesn’t really look out for the welfare of patients. Therefore it couldn’t possibly look out for the welfare of workers.”

Unlike most developed nations, the United States does not have universal healthcare, and relies primarily on private hospitals and insurance, largely tied to employment. It is the most expensive health system in the world.

The survey asked more than 23,000 nurses across all 50 states and Washington DC about their working conditions since the pandemic began. The survey represents the period between 15 April and 10 May, and was conducted by National Nurses United. It included both union and non-union nurses.

In it, surveyors found 84% of nurses had not been tested for Covid-19, 87% are forced to reuse personal protective equipment designed to be single-use, such as N95 masks and face shields, and 72% of nurses have exposed skin or clothing while treating coronavirus patients.

Nurses have staged multiple, ongoing protests for more personal protective equipment since the pandemic began. In viral images, nurses have been shown wearing makeshift gowns including rain ponchos, using the same N95 mask for weeks and have described severe rationing.

At the same time, lack of a cohesive national strategy has left many states bidding amongst themselves for gear, driven up the price of N95 masks, and caused some states and hospitals to turn to billionaires for help.

The survey also found that of the nurses who have received Covid-19 tests, more than 500 tested positive. Another 500 nurses are waiting for results. A third of nurses surveyed said if they were diagnosed or suspected to be Covid-19 positive, employers required them to use earned vacation or sick time to recover.

“Nurses signed up to care for their patients,” said Bonnie Castillo, NNU executive director and a registered nurse. “They did not sign up to die needlessly on the front lines of a pandemic. Our message to employers and the Trump administration is: platitudes are empty without protections. For our sake, for the public’s sake: give us PPE.”

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