‘We’re very afraid’: Kaiser Permanente nurses worry about lack of equipment

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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (KTXL) — On their own time on Monday, dozens of Kaiser Permanente nurses held up signs and protested in front of the South Sacramento Medical Center.

“We have not been getting the proper equipment and proper training in order to safely take care of our patients and we’re very afraid that the disease is going to spread even more because this is not happening,” said registered nurse Diane McClure. 

Nurses believe if they get sick and continue to work in the same capacity, there will not be anyone to care for patients as they come in.

“They are asking nurses to wear masks all day long when typically we need to switch those out in between patients,” McClure told FOX40. “Going from one room to another room can spread it from one patient to the other.”

McClure said constant use with the same mask becomes insufficient.

“You might as well have a piece of tissue paper over your face,” she said.

Kaiser Permanente administrators say they are proud of their nurses as they work on the front lines.

“Our first priority is to ensure that they are safe and they have the protective equipment that they need,” said Kaiser Permanente Northern California Senior Vice President Michelle Gaskill-Hames.

But aside from the shortage of masks, McClure said staff is in need of much more, including respirators, protective clothing and bleach wipes.

“We’re getting low on things like hand sanitizers. We need more goggles. We need more gowns,” she told FOX40.

But Kaiser disagrees.

“But to suggest that we are not providing protective equipment or the right protective equipment is simply inaccurate,” Gaskill-Hames said.

Kaiser Permanente says it relies on the expertise from the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, along with other science-based and evidence-based practices, to ensure that the hospital provides the right protective equipment for staff.

Without protective equipment being provided to nurses, McClure said it’s inevitable the health care workers will become susceptible to the virus.

“They’re potentially spreading the disease and taking the disease home to their families and getting them sick,” she said.

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