By Zayba Syed, a blog writer at GetUsPPE.org
This week, one nurse shared her fears and the source of her strength during this pandemic. From the first week of quarantine until now, she has been reminded of her initial drive to be a nurse – “to help people achieve their best health and provide care with compassion.” Despite the generous donations of personal protective equipment (PPE) to GetUsPPE, there is still a huge shortage of PPE in our nation. This nurse and her colleagues are fighting for the equipment they need. On the Medical/Surgery floor where she works, the nurses have to bring their own N95 masks from home and share them with nurses that float to their unit. Their senior leaders are not distributing respirator masks to the Medical/Surgery unit, based on their understanding of evidence-based practices when it comes to PPE. Other departments, like the Emergency Department (ED), have PPE readily available. In one case, a nurse from another department secretly gave the nurse who contacted us an N95 mask from their department when this nurse did not have one. This is the disheartening reality for many healthcare workers fighting COVID-19.
Nurses anywhere on the frontlines deserve to be protected from COVID-19 just as much as any other healthcare worker. This nurse shares her gratitude towards organizations stepping forward to provide facilities with PPE. She says “the biggest support we can get right now is to call out the discrepancies in PPE within my company and pressure all health care organizations to provide N95 masks to their staff caring for PUI/COVID-19 patients.”
Recently, the nurse and her colleagues began working with Health Professionals for Equality and Community Empowerment to shine light on the disparities within their hospital. With the help of this group in Sonoma County, they have been able to advocate by contacting their county board of supervisors, the health department, media and state leaders to try to get consistency in PPE across all the healthcare providers in the county.
Hearing this story is motivation to take action and for healthcare workers to be aware of your right to have proper protective equipment to protect your life, the lives of your family members, and the lives of the patients you see.