By Carol Davis
National Nurses United (NNU) registered nurses plan a national day of action on Wednesday, July 21, to demand that employers prioritize safety and workplace protections and address problems highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tens of thousands of NNU RNs are in the process of bargaining contracts that govern safe patient care conditions and their own workplace safety. The RNs say it is crucial to win these protections in writing to hold employers to prioritize occupational and public health and safety, NNU said in a press release.
To date, more than 400 RNs have died of COVID-19, according to NNU.
“Nurses across the country are standing up and demanding critical change,” said NNU president Deborah Burger, RN. “Let’s be clear that with the number of COVID cases going back up in some areas of the country, and more contagious and deadly variants spreading, the pandemic is not over. Our employers must act today to address serious issues in our facilities.”
Among their demands:
- Optimal personal protective equipment (PPE), as many nurses still report being told to use the same N95 respirator for an entire shift or for multiple shifts, or not being given an N95 respirator at all.
- Safe staffing levels, and other measures to ensure patient safety during COVID-19.
- Employers help protect their patients against racial health disparities by expanding and preserving healthcare services, rather than shrinking, eliminating, and consolidating them “to maximize profit,” NNU said.
“From the start of the pandemic, nurses have called on the hospitals to make appropriate plans, to increase staffing and increase training, to put in place clear infection control protocols, and to observe the precautionary principle by using the highest level of protections when dealing with a novel virus,” Burger said. “The hospitals did not comply, and the consequences have been deadly. Nurses are standing up on July 21 and using our collective voices to demand that our employers put patients first.”
Carol Davis is the Nursing Editor at HealthLeaders, an HCPro brand.