NYSNA has been working nonstop over the past few weeks to address this unprecedented pandemic.
Our key priority is securing PPE for nurses on the frontlines of the COVID crisis and pushing lawmakers to secure the supply chain for PPE and equipment by whatever means necessary, including using the Defense Production Act.
I’ve been in daily contact with the Governor’s Office, the Mayor of New York City, and Dr. Howard Zucker from the Department of Health.
Yesterday, the Governor contacted NYSNA to let us know that since Saturday, 2.5 million surgical masks, 370,000 N95 respirators, 72,000 gowns and 100,000 face shields have been delivered to area hospitals.
Members continue to report crisis conditions around PPE, so we will keep pressing federal and state officials to do whatever it takes to get more supplies to frontline caregivers.
You can take action to tell the Governor to get the PPE to the frontlines.
We are also in regular contact with Senator Chuck Schumer and Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, pushing them to include protections for frontline nurses in the emergency legislation currently being debated in Congress. Frontline healthcare workers battling this pandemic deserve higher OSHA infection control standards, unlimited paid sick time, and disability protections.
WHAT IS ADEQUATE PPE?
NYSNA continues to push back against relaxed PPE standards by the CDC, the New York Department of Health, and our employers.
NYSNA’s position is that anyone treating COVID-positive patients and PUIs needs adequate PPE, which includes:
- A fit-tested N95 (or higher level) respirator
- A liquid-repellent or impermeable gown
- Face shield or non-vented goggles
Disposable respiratory protection should be worn for a single patient care session and should not be reused!
IF YOU DON’T HAVE ADEQUATE PPE, TAKE ACTION
Join our statewide day of action, Friday, March 27. Members will be delivering our demand letter to hospital command centers across the state. Contact your NYSNA Rep and local leaders for how to get involved.
- File a COVID POA. Here’s why it’s important to file these supplemental protests of assignment
- Keep daily documentation. NYSNA has created a simple way to keep an electronic COVID Daily Diary which could be critical in protecting your license and your health as this pandemic progresses.
TESTING AND QUARANTINE UPDATE
Over the weekend, we sent a text survey to our members and found that only 13% of the nurses who were exposed to the virus were tested. This is outrageous, and it’s putting frontline healthcare workers at risk.
We will continue to demand that local, state, and federal officials make widespread testing available immediately; and we are opposed to any attempt to ration tests, or any policy that will lead to disparities in access to testing, such as the NYC-DOH’s current guidelines.
We also continue to oppose the New York Department of Health’s relaxed quarantine standard, which is putting healthcare workers at risk and contributing to the spread of the virus.
We continue to produce more materials to help NYSNA members confront the COVID-19 crisis. Please check out the following member resources:
- The Union Approach to Managing the COVID Crisis, which includes seven steps every hospitals should take before conservation methods are put in place
- Why Relaxed Quarantine Rules Put Workers, Patients, and Community at Risk
- COVID Protest of Assignment
- Practice Alert: Increased Scope of Practice for Advanced Practice Nurses and Registered Professional Nurses
- Practice Alert: Increased Scope of Nurse Practitioners
- Childcare Resources for Responders (Statewide)
- Mental Health Resources
As you can imagine, we’ve been inundated with media calls, and NYSNA has been featured prominently in more than 50 major media outlets in the last several days. Here are a few media clips to give you a sense of the impact we’re having:
- CNN: “U.S. Healthcare Workers Terrified Rising Risks” featuring NYSNA President Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez who discussed the fact that one of her fellow nurses at Montefiore Medical Center is currently on a ventilator in intensive care.
- Spectrum News: “Western New York Nurses Concerned About Mask Availability and More” featuring NYSNA Board Member Chiqkena Collins, who said “Nurses are worried we don’t have enough ammo to for the war we’re fighting.”
- “Nurses treating COVID-19 say they can’t get tested, fear healthcare system might ‘collapse’” on PIX11, featuring NYSNA First Vice President Anthony Ciampa, who said, “We need the tools, the supplies, the resources to be able to stop this virus.”
- “Local hospitals in need of medical equipment” on WNYT, featuring Denise D’Avella and Amanda Lyons from the Capital Region. Denise said “Have the equipment available for us, and have protocols in place, so we can triage these patients better, so that we are more likely to stop this potential spread…”
Stay safe. Stay strong. Keep fighting. Our solidarity and professional expertise are the only thing that can see New York through this crisis.
Pat Kane, RN