Every day, nurses and healthcare workers are being sent into battle without armor.
And while we’ve been forcefully demanding help from New York State, COVID-19 has become a full-scale national emergency.
This week our union is launching a major push to demand that President Trump and Congress take immediate action to protect frontline healthcare workers.
UNLEASHING THE DEFENSE PRODUCTION ACT
The first, and most critical, step is for President Trump to unleash the Defense Production Act (DPA). This federal law gives President Trump the power to order manufacturers to immediately begin mass producing PPE, ventilators, tests, and other much-needed medical equipment and supplies. What is he waiting for?
We’re calling on the President to listen to frontline healthcare workers, not corporate lobbyists or the Chamber of Commerce, and use his powers under the DPA to produce and distribute the PPE we so desperately need.
This effort is part of our four-point federal program for protecting healthcare workers, which also calls on Congress to stop leaving healthcare workers out of emergency federal legislation. We need a strong safety standard from OSHA, unlimited sick time, and disability protections.
It’s time for President Trump to come to New York and see firsthand what conditions are like on the frontlines of the war against COVID-19. Come walk a day in our shoes!
We need you to amplify this message. The first step is to educate yourself and your co-workers about the Defense Production Act. Download the campaign flyer and Frequently Asked Questions. We need every member to know what it’s going to take to protect us.
You can also sign the petition today, demanding action from President Trump and Congress.
REMEMBERING FALLEN NURSES
I’m deeply saddened to report that over the past few days, several NYSNA members have fallen victim to COVID-19. Losing colleagues to this virus has been devastating for all of us on the frontlines, and our hearts go out to their families.
We are also setting up a memorial page on the NYSNA website to honor these fallen nurses. If you have pictures or remembrances of colleagues you’d like to share, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org.
NYSNA continues to be in daily contact with the Governor’s office and push Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health to get us the PPE we desperately need. Last week, after we directly addressed misleading statements from the Governor, he significantly changed his tune in his daily briefings. He said at his next press briefing, “If we believe the CDC guidelines don’t protect the health care professionals, then we will put our own guidelines in place.”
We’ve also made progress at several facilities improving their approach to PPE.
Members across the state are following the lead of Jacobi Medical Center, where our members held a speak-out on Saturday. Several other facilities are planning similar events this week, and I encourage everyone to make your voice heard.
Members across the state are planning similar events this week, and I encourage everyone to make your voice heard.
I also encourage every member to document your work days using the COVID Daily Diary. These reports are giving us incredibly valuable information that we’ve already used to push state and federal officials for adequate PPE and access to COVID-19 testing for healthcare workers.
Just in the past two days we’ve seen:
- Inadequate PPE: 72% of reports filed over the last 48 hours indicate RNs are working with inadequate PPE
- Contact with COVID/PUI patients: 85% of these reports are from RNs working with COVID-positive or PUI patients
- Testing RNs working with COVID patients: In only 4% of the cases where RNs are working with COVID-positive or PUI patients have these RNs been tested for COVID-19
- Testing RNs with symptoms: In 10% of reports filed, RNs ARE showing symptoms for COVID-19 and have NOT been tested
NEW YORK STATE BUDGET
As the COVID-19 pandemic tears across the state, lawmakers are closing in on a budget that would cut billions in healthcare funding. We oppose any budget that would cut critical services in the middle of this unprecedented crisis. Today, we sent a petition signed by more than 6,000 NYSNA nurses and our supporters to Governor Cuomo demanding that he implement NYSNA’s COVID-19 Action plan. The plan calls for an immediate moratorium on all closures of hospitals and reductions in services, and a fair budget with no cuts to Medicaid or other healthcare funding.
RESOURCES FOR MEMBERS
In the midst of this unprecedented and incredibly stressful public health crisis, we remind NYSNA members to take advantage of a relatively new benefit available to all members and their immediate families, the Union Assistance Program (UAP).
Members utilizing the UAP can speak directly with professional staff counselors 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, via a toll-free number. Counselors (who all have either a Master’s degree or PhD) assist with issues including Family, Stress, Mental Health, Job Related Difficulties, Loss and Grief, Life Changes, and of course now, the anxiety and uncertainty created by the COVID-19 pandemic. All conversations are confidential, and UAP provides direct in-the-moment counseling, and act as case managers when referrals are made to local counselors or other work-life or wellness resources.
Find out more... visit UAP online today.
We also encourage you to review the many other resources we’ve produced to help NYSNA members confront the COVID-19 crisis:
- New factsheet from NYSNA’s Health and Safety Department: Using Ventilation to Protect Healthcare Workers and Patients
- Frequently Asked Questions about COVID-19 Paid Sick Leave Law and information from the New York Department of Health
- 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
- Why It’s Important to File a 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)
- Additional Mental Health Resources
Nurses continue to be at the center of the national conversation about COVID-19, and as the most trusted profession in the country, our voices carry substantial weight. NYSNA members have been featured in more than 100 news stories in the past week.
Below are a few recent examples:
- “Nurses Die, Doctors Fall Sick and Panic Rises on Virus Front Lines” — The New York Times
- “Nurses protest coronavirus mask and glove shortage in the Bronx” — The New York Post
- CNN Coronavirus Coverage with Erin Burnett
- Nurses treating coronavirus say they are reusing masks, back to work before 14-day quarantine — USA Today
- Capital Region Nurses concerned over protective equipment shortage, new NYSDOH protocols — WRGB
Pat Kane, RN