OAKLAND, Calif., Oct. 30, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Registered nurses from California to Maine will hold strikes, picketing, and other actions Wednesday, November 12 in 14 U.S. states and the District of Columbia – with possible support actions globally – as the largest U.S. organization of nurses steps up the demand for tougher Ebola safety precautions in the nation's hospitals.
National Nurses United will hold a press conference at 2 p.m. in Oakland, Ca. at 2000 Franklin St. about the national day of action.
Media in the U.S. and Canada may call in to the press conference at 888-428-7458 (or international dial-ins at 862-255-5400)
One centerpiece of the actions will be a two-day strike by 18,000 RNs and nurse practitioners at 66 Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics who have been pressing the HMO giant for weeks to put in place proper safety protocols and training with optimal personal protective equipment. Kaiser has repeatedly dismissed the nurses' concerns. In California alone, strikes, pickets and other actions will involve 50,000 RNs.
A strike will also occur at Providence Hospital in Washington D.C. affecting 400 RNs.
In addition, Ebola safety actions are tentatively set for Augusta, Ga.; Bar Harbor, Me.; Boston; Chicago; Durham, N.C.; Houston; Kansas City; Las Vegas; Lansing, Mi.; Massilon, Oh.; Miami; St. Louis; St. Paul, Mn.; St. Petersburg, Fl.; and Washington D.C., as well as a number of other California locations. Additional details on exact sites of the actions will be announced soon.
NNU says it anticipates actions in many other states as well, as nurses are contacting NNU across the country, and it is highly likely the national day of action will spread widely.
"With the refusal of hospitals across the country to take seriously the need to establish the highest safety precautions for when an Ebola patient walks in the door, and the failure of our elected leaders in Washington to compel them to do so, America's nurses say they have to make their voices heard a little louder," said NNU Executive Director RoseAnn DeMoro.
"If nurses are on the outside, it tells you there must be something wrong on the inside. What's wrong on the inside is the cavalier attitude of most U.S. hospitals who would rather continue to put their nurses, other frontline healthcare workers, patients, and the public to the risk of exposure to Ebola than to take the steps necessary to ensure proper safety standards," DeMoro said.
"The hospitals are willing to gamble with the lives and safety of RNs and other health workers. But we are not," said DeMoro. "If registered nurses, the people who will be caring for Ebola patients and are at the most risk, are not protected from the Ebola virus, no one is protected. Stopping Ebola in our hospitals is the only way to stop Ebola in the U.S."
"Kaiser has shown a complete disregard for the safety of nurses and patients in the face of a disease that the World Health Organization calls the 'most severe acute health emergency in modern times'," said Deborah Burger, RN, co-president of NNU and a Kaiser nurse. "We will not be silent while Kaiser puts all of us, our families, and our communities, at risk."
"For far too long, Providence nurses have felt disrespected due to poor working conditions and unsafe staffing. Now, management is asking us to care for a possible Ebola patient without optimal protective equipment and training. We're striking to protect ourselves and our patients," said Providence RN Rose Farhoudi
What NNU is demanding is that all U.S. hospitals follow the precautionary principle in safety measures for Ebola, which holds that absent scientific consensus that a particular risk is not harmful, especially one that can have catastrophic consequences, the highest level of safeguards must be adopted.
Specifically, that means for nurses and other caregivers who interact with Ebola patients are provided the optimal personal protective equipment including full-body hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials F1670 standard for blood penetration, F1671 standard for viral penetration, and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected, and National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators with an assigned protection factor of at least 50.
Second, that all facilities provide continuous, rigorous interactive training for RNs and other health workers who might encounter an Ebola patient, which includes practice putting on and taking off the hazmat suits where some of the greatest risk of infection can occur.
NNU has also repeatedly called on the White House and Congress to direct all hospitals to meet these standards. "We know from years of experience that these hospitals will meet the cheapest standards, not the most effective precautions. And now we are done talking and ready to act," DeMoro said.
SOURCE California Nurses Association