Despite the fact that nurses do the majority of interacting with hospital patients, it is generally doctors who receive the lion’s share of compensation, praise and, in the time of covid-19, apparently N95 respirator masks, according to nurses in California, who say that officials at Providence Saint John’s Health Center in Santa Monica told them N95s weren’t necessary—right up until a nurse tested positive for coronavirus.
Nurse Mike Gulick, an employee of the hospital, says he spent the early days of the pandemic stopping at hotels on his way home from the hospital to take showers so he didn’t carry the virus home to his wife and toddler. Meanwhile, his employers reportedly told him and his fellow nurses that the CDC had declared regular surgical masks just as effective as N95 masks, even though N95 masks block 95 percent of airborne particles. After another nurse on his ward tested positive, doctors, who were given N95 masks, began to ask nurses why they were wearing the less-effective surgical masks, prompting Gulick and other nurses to refuse to go into the rooms of patients infected with covid-19 without adequate protection.
In response, hospital administrators did the right thing and figured out a more equitable way of distributing necessary equipment even if it meant reducing profit margins. Just kidding! They suspended Guilick and nine of his co-workers. And while the hospital is correct that the CDC doesn’t explicitly mandate N95 masks for covid-19 healthcare workers, it does report that 9,200 caregivers have been infected.
Providence Saint John’s says they have upped their supply of N95 masks and are now supplying them to all nurses, but will not comment on the suspended whistleblowers. The California case is just one example of the shit American nurses are dealing with as they attempt to do their jobs during a pandemic amid a nationwide shortage of equipment and supplies. Across the country, nurses have filed complaints with Occupational Safety and Health Administration, including one particularly horrible account from Oregon, per the AP:
In Oregon, a March 26 complaint warned that masks were not being provided to nurses working with suspected COVID-19 patients. Another Oregon complaint alleged nurses “are told that wearing a mask will result in disciplinary action.’”
Nurses’ unions in New York, Massachusetts, Michigan, Illinois, California, and Pennsylvania have organized action for better equipment using the hashtag “PPEoverProfit” (PPE stands for personal protective equipment). If there’s a shortage of masks, it might also be beneficial to check the supply closets on the administrative floors. [AP]
- The U.S. is using coronavirus as an excuse to end a decades-old policy of allowing unaccompanied minors to seek asylum, leaving them stranded alone at the border. [The Intercept]
- Following a bunch of bad publicity, the USAA bank has decided not to keep veterans’ stimulus checks after all. [The American Prospect]
- Nearly 22 million people have filed for unemployment in the last month. [NBC]
- The Trump administration (which also told us there were “very fine people on both sides” at Charlottesville) is not doing much to curb the rising tide of anti-Asian racism and violence, most likely for easily guessable reasons. [Center for Public Integrity]
- Sure is a lucky coincidence about Senator Richard Burr’s unusually high volume of pre-coronavirus stock sell-offs. [NPR]
- Way too many people still approve of this fuckery but not as many as before. [Twitter]
- I’ll be honest, I didn’t turn the sound on for this clip, but surely Dr. Oz didn’t say schoolchildren sound appetizing? [Twitter]
- For whatever reason, Elizabeth Warren would still consent to be our vice-president, bless her. [Politico]
- Not to get everyone all riled up with a shocking revelation about the maddening disparities and unfairness between the ruling and lower classes, but Nancy Pelosi has ice cream. [Twitter]