Your Letters: March 28, 2020

Safety for all staff at St. Mary’s Hospital

It has come to my attention that st.marys hospital is taking away safety gear from nurses and staff and having the nurses wear hand made not fitted 395 masks. I feel we as a community need to stand up for our first responders and do something to change this call for the safety of our nurses and others not to spread this horrible disease. Covid-19. we are taking every precaution at home to protect ourselves why are the hospitals only going have a way on PPE. this is not right it’s inhumane. please here our call and make this known to the public! our family’s lives depend on it.

St. Mary’s Not Protecting Staff

We need your help! Let it be known that the staff in our local hospitals are not being well protected during this pandemic. The World health organization (WHO) and CDC keep changing the protection requirements weekly to simple mask (Droplet)  from PAPR suits (Airborne). This virus is too new and it is making us health care workers lose trust in our leadership. I state we need to be PROACTIVE rather than REACTIVE in this circumstance. Why is China and Italy still practicing Airborne? Why are we putting our lives at risk? Our families at risk? I Because this virus can live in the air for 3 hours after a cough or sneeze. When someone coughs or sneezes the 3-hour clock restarts!! Please help us at St. Mary’s! We are the last hope for some, and feel we should be protected. Just as a soldier goes to war with full in Kevlar and helmet, we should be sent to this war with proper equipment too!!!

Covid-19 in need of proper PPE

I’m sending you a letter to express my concern re: removing our PPE’s (PAPR’s) for covid19 patients. Although as per the memo said, it’s now “droplet” (per CDC), I read CDC guideline as well that it says “droplet” when you’re 6ft and over from PUI’s. How about the actual bedside caregiver/nurse? As of now, no one really has the answer how covid19 is transmitted. Even CDC, WHO doesn’t have that “right” answer. It’s trial and error. Many healthcare workers already got sick and died not only in this country but all over the world. I know you might say, you don’t care about me as a person since you don’t really know me as a person but I’m a healthcare worker who is trying to fight this for the sake not only for my family but the whole human being. Taking away our PAPR’s and other appropriate PPE’s is like sending soldiers to a war without combat uniforms and gears. This is very concerning to me as a bedside nurse knowing i’m the handling the patient and not any of you. I have a family to go home too and as you would like to protect ourselves and your family, i’m trying and praying to protect mine as well. I beg to please review again these guidelines not only for us front liners but for you and your family as well. If all the bedside caregivers get sick, who’s going to be there to fight this covid19? You might say, we can be easily replaced, yes, that might be true, but as PPE is scarce right now, nurses and other caregivers might not enough to fight this in the future too. Please help us fight covid19 by giving us appropriate PPE’s and peace of mind! Thank you very much. 

Urgent Matter; SMMC and Healthcare workers safety

I am a nurse at St Mary Medical Center (SMMC) here in Apple Valley. Today I am writing you with a dire concern that myself and my fellow nurses at SMMC have in regard to the most recent guidelines brought to our attention by our management about use of personal protective equipment (PPE). As you know, the current COVID-19 pandemic is beginning to affect our High Desert community along with the rest of the world. We have already had a number of rule out COVID patients in our hospital, with more to come I am sure. As of Friday, March 27, 2020 the hospital has decided to NOT allow us to use powered air-purifying respirators (PAPRs) while caring for possible and/or positive COVID patients. PAPRs are used as airborne precaution PPE (for viruses/diseases spread through the air). N95 mask are also used for airborne precautions but at this time the hospital does not have any to supply for us. Their reason for doing so is because the CDC has stated that the COVID virus is spread by droplets (droplet precautions do not require use of PAPR, rather surgical masks). The concern is that the World Health Organization (WHO) still regards COVID-19 as an airborne disease. As stated by multiple organizations this disease/pandemic is a very fluid situation, and new/conflicting information is constantly emerging about it. Now that the hospital has stopped the use of PAPRs, they are having healthcare professionals use Donated, non-healthcare approved N95 masks. Mind you, N95 masks require a fit test specific to each individual, so even if they are supplying donated N95s for our use, it is no guarantee that they are fully sealing on our faces. So, I ask, what is the issue with being overly cautious while caring for a disease that has taken so many lives around the world in as little as 4 months? A disease that has infected over 100,000 people and killed over 1,000 people in the US alone. A disease that has killed over 20,000 people in the world. With such a virus, in which information about it changes daily (even hourly), is it so wrong to be overly cautious when thinking about the health of ourselves, our families, the community and our patients? The biggest low blow in this situation is that the PAPRs will be sitting in a storage closet being of no use or protection to anyone. This situation is putting our community and our healthcare workers at an increased risk. It is imperative that we get this information out to the public, so they are aware of what their local healthcare workers are being challenged with by their employer. It is disheartening and discouraging to know that in times of crisis our leadership would make such irrational decisions about the protection of its employees. I am simply a frontline nurse trying to do my part in combatting this virus. However, I want to ensure that I remain safe in every way possible. The healthier I remain, the more available I am to help my community and those infected by this horrible disease.

Refusal of essential PPE at St Marys Medical center

I’m an RN at St Mary Medical center in Apple Valley and it has been brought to my attention and is my understanding that our hospital has decided to remove necessary PPE from the hospital that we need to care for COVID patients. We can not lose our PAPR’s, PAPR’s are respirators that we can use to care for any possible or suspected COVID patients, since we have little to no supply of N95 masks we use these in lieu of those masks. They protect not only the staff but additionally the patients. My concerns are that if staff contracts COVID they risk exposing not only other staff members but patients and the community as well. By removing the necessary PPE for staff to care for those in this community is not only reckless, it is irresponsible and unneeded. I understand this is based off of new CDC recommendations for droplet precautions however Cal-OSHA still deems COVID as airborne and as such airborne precautions are essential.  I work very hard as an ICU RN and have a family with small children, I have family that have weakened immune systems including myself however I go to work every single shift and care for those who are critically ill. I can not stand by and allow exposure to myself, my coworkers, my patients or my family members. I am the only working person in my house and if I get sick I can not provide for my family. If I am sick I can not care for the sick. I can not do what I am called to do if I am denied to proper equipment to do it. I ask that you bring this to others attention so that we may have the support of our Community and for those we care for! We are nurses, we are strong and we need your support in this. Please demand that they give us our PPE to care for these AIRBORNE patients in this time of need!!! Protect your nurses! 

COVID-19 – Protect our grocery Clerks on the frontlines

My immediate family member (hereafter referred to as individual) has been working at Stater Bros grocery for about 13 years now. The individual has a proven track record and is one of the fastest “checkers” at their grocery store. The individual has been pulling 60 hour work weeks as a part-time employee in support of the community during these troubling times. 

Topic: The individual has requested to be allowed to bring their own face mask (PPE) to work, and has been forced to sign documentation outlining that in doing so they will be fired from their position. The individual contacted their union representative and was advised to contact the store manager (whom already advised it will get the individual fired). The individual is extremely concerned that he/she is unable to protect his/her own health, welfare, and safety in the midst of a viral pandemic. Further, the individual takes care of other person(s) who are at significantly increased risk of fatality from the virus.
Safety Example: Due to increasing regulations IOT avoid transmission of COVID-19; returns are no longer being accepted at the individuals store. As you can imagine, this can cause customer anger and refute. Customers have been identified spitting, coughing, and sneezing on employees across multiple grocery chains as retaliation for the refusal to accept returns.
Concern:The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 (OSHA) stands “to assure safe and healthful working conditions for working men and women; by authorizing enforcement of the standards developed under the Act…”
Within OSHA 3990-03 2020 “Guidance on Preparing Workplaces for COVID-19”; classification of worker exposure to the SARS-CoV-2 virus (COVID-19) is seperated into multiple risk categories. Each risk category provides specific employer responsibilities, guidelines, and recommendations to reduce the exposure of both customers and employees.
OSHA 3990-03 2020 defines Medium Exposure Risk as ” Medium exposure risk jobs include those that require frequent and/or close contact with (i.e., within 6 feet of) people who may be infected with SARS-CoV-2, but who are not known or suspected COVID-19 patients. In areas without ongoing community transmission, workers in this risk group may have frequent contact with travelers who may return from international locations with widespread COVID-19 transmission. In areas where there is ongoing community transmission, workers in this category may have contact with the general public (e.g., schools, high-population-density work environments, some high-volume retail settings).” on page 20.
OSHA 3990-03 2020 further elaborates on page 21-23, suitable Engineering and Administrative controls in addition to the “Steps all Employers Can Take to Reduce Workers’ Risk of Exposure to SARS-CoV-2” (Page 7).
Engineering Control (suitable/applicable)

  • Identified as “Install physical barriers, such as clear plastic sneeze guards, where feasible”.

Administrative Control (suitable/applicable)

  • Identified as “Consider Strategies to minimize face-to-face contact…”
  • Identified as “… A reusable face shield that can be decontaminated may be an acceptable method of protecting against droplet transmission.”

Support:Employees should be allowed to protect themselves in the midst of a global pandemic by using appropriate face protection to better prevent particles transmitted during customer “…sneezing, coughing, and spitting”. Per OSHA 3990-03 2020; “the virus is thought to spread mainly from person-to-person, including:

  • Between people who are in close contact with one another (within about 6 feet).
  • Through respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.” – Page 5

Our clerks working on the front-lines of grocery stores across the USA should be allowed to protect themselves. While they may be forced to work within 6 feet due to current infrastructure; they MUST be allowed the opportunity to bring their own Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to combat respiratory droplet transmission.
Analyzing guidance contained within OSHA 3990-03 2020 leads to the inevitable conclusion that; an N95 respiratory mask (or face shield) will further protect employees against “…droplets [that] can land in the mouth or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.”
Please assist me in raising awareness of this story. While employers and agencies drastically fight to bring us new guidance to prevent further spread of COVID-19, we should not place ourselves in a position where our front-line workers are unable to protect themselves.

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