Some nurses with Kaiser Permanente in Santa Clara are saying they don’t have enough personal protective gear needed to serve patients during the coronavirus pandemic, and their hospital isn’t doing enough to change that.
Nurses told NBC Bay Area they’re getting simple surgical masks, and they’re being asked to wear them for up to four hours at a time as they move from patient to patient.
Several dozen nurses protested outside Kaiser Santa Clara Thursday morning, asking for more equipment from the hospital and more transparency on the guidelines that the hospital is using to determine their risk of infection.
The nurses say they’re being told that the coronavirus is transmitted via droplets, as when a patient coughs or sneezes, and that the virus is not airborne, though the nurses say new data suggests that may not be true.
They’re concerned they’ll spread the virus among themselves, their patients and their own families.
"They’re suggesting that we keep the masks on for 4 hours because that’s the usable time, but to use it normally, our procedure is that we would not go from one patient to another to another to another with the same mask because we don’t want to transmit everything," nurse Ian Krajcoviac said.
Fellow nurse Deborah Szeto agreed.
"I'm young, and I have a healthy immune system, and I thought that should keep me safe, but now with new data from the CDC, I’m not feeling quite as hopeful," Szeto said.
Nurse Charlotte Zajac added: "We do really, really need the protective equipment. We need it now, we need it available to us now."
Kaiser infectious disease expert Dr. Stephen Parodi responded to the nurses' demands.
"As the virus is now spreading through our community, equipment and supply needs have increased dramatically," he said in a statement. "We are prudently managing our resources to ensure this equipment is available for our health care workforce for the duration of this pandemic."