New York State nurses and other hospital workers are being exposed to “dangerous working conditions” amid the coronavirus pandemic because of “critical shortages” of personal protective gear, and they want “urgent action” from Gov. Andrew Cuomo to provide them with the equipment they need.
That’s the message in a blistering April 11 letter sent by the New York State Nurses Association’s director to Howard Zucker, the state health commissioner, obtained by The Post.
The letter contradicts comments made by Melissa de Rosa, secretary to Gov. Cuomo, at a press briefing last week, in which she said that hospitals were receiving stockpiled PPE equipment and that no health care facilities in the state would have to resort to “crisis conservation.”
That means the reusing of masks, hospital gowns and other equipment meant to guard against the spread of COVID-19.
“At this point most hospitals and nursing homes in the New York City metropolitan area, which is the national epicenter of the pandemic, continue to operate under ‘crisis conservation’ standards because they do not have enough PPE to distribute to our desperate staff,” wrote Patricia Kane, the executive director of the Nurses Association, the union which represents 42,000 frontline nurses in the state.
In the letter, Kane went on to describe “widespread” crisis protocols for re-using scarce protective equipment.
She described how N95 masks are only being used by nurses and other staff in ICUs and the masks, designed for one-time use, must be recycled for up to five days before being discarded.
She described how the delay of delivery of PPEs to many hospitals have forced health care workers to collect and re-sterilize used PPE equipment which would be discarded under normal circumstances.
“If the state is in possession of stockpiles of PPE, they should be immediately distributed to our facilities so that our nurses and other staff can provide can provide care for patients under safe conditions,” Kane said.
“We urge you to treat this matter with the urgency that the situation warrants and act to protect the safety and lives of the nurses and other direct care workers on the front lines of this fight.
“Our nurses do not need expressions of appreciation and promises. They need to see ample supplies of PPE on their units.”
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