New York State Nurses Association raises serious concerns about recent comments made by hospital executives regarding Personal Protective Equipment

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2020
Contact: Carl Ginsburg | carl.ginsburg@nysna.org | 917.405.1060

Albany, NY - The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) is raising serious concerns about recent comments made by hospital executives at Albany Medical Center.

In a recent news conference, one hospital executive said: “Through the fall, we’ve been very careful about how we use our PPE including things we have been criticized for which is trying to reprocess and reuse N95 masks.”

This was reiterated several times in several days.

Of course it has been criticized, because it’s ridiculous and dangerous for patients and nurses.

The latest Centers for Disease Control (CDC) guidelines updated in October 2020 state very clearly: “Other strategies to conserve supplies of respirators during an N95 FFR crisis capacity situation should be utilized first before FFR decontamination is implemented.”

The CDC guidelines also say: “Repeated decontamination and handling of FFRs can damage the fit and filtration performance of N95 FFRs.”

Albany Medical Center confirms they have adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) supplies so why are they putting people at risk?

This travesty is just one reason why NYSNA has filed an OSHA complaint against Albany Medical Center for not protecting its nurses from COVID by neglecting to provide suitable personal protective equipment.

A copy of the complaint can be found here.

The complaint alleges that, among other issues, Albany Medical Center is forcing its nurses to use N95 respirators over and over again -- over a period of 20 shifts often lasting 12 or more hours. N95s are "reprocessed" after each shift and sent back to healthcare staff for re-use. The respirators are often stained with make up or other substances and stretched out more and more after each use. N95 manufacturers, the CDC, scientific researchers and occupational health and safety experts all agree -- this repeated process degrades the N95 putting wearers at risk of exposure to the virus that causes COVID-19. Many AMC nurses have already been infected with COVID-19. The hospital continues to put their staff at risk.

The complaint also alleges that the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) say that N95 respirators should ONLY be re-used if a facility does NOT have a 90-day supply. The state says all hospitals have a 90-day supply. Albany Medical Center confirms it has a 90-day supply. Yet, hospital executives are forcing nurses to re-use the masks.

The complaint comes on the heels of a commissioned report by Edward Olmsted, a private healthcare consultant for hospitals, governments, and insurance companies among others, that says the PPE actions at Albany Medical Center pose for nurses “an unreasonable risk of exposure to COVID-19 while performing their jobs.”

The report can be found here.

We believe that these practices create an immediate threat of harm to nurses and patients and should be immediately remedied. Albany Med must address their health and safety concerns and settle a fair contract that protects patients and nurses.

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The New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) represents more than 42,000 members in New York State. We are New York’s largest union and professional association for registered nurses. For more information, please visit nysna.org.

About NYSNA

We are 42,000 nurses working together to win safe staffing, keep hospitals open for care, stop the Wall Street attack on our patients, and win healthcare for all.