Coronavirus medical supply shortage: Nurses protest outside of San Jose hospital for more protective equipment

Julian Glover Image
Wednesday, April 1, 2020
Coronavirus SJ nurses protest for more protective equipment
Dozens of nurses staged protests outside of two San Jose hospitals Wednesday morning pleading for more personal protective equipment as they treat coronavirus patients.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (KGO) -- Dozens of nurses staged protests outside of two San Jose hospitals Wednesday morning pleading for more personal protective equipment as they treat coronavirus patients.

RELATED: Get the latest live updates on coronavirus crisis

Santa Clara County is the hot spot in the Bay Area when it comes to coronavirus cases so the threat of catching the virus is very real for medical staff, especially when there isn't enough personal protective equipment (PPE) to go around.

"Every single day going home I haven't kissed or hugged my daughter for 2, 3 weeks. I go home, shower and go to my own room" said an emotional Diane Pham, R.N. "It's really hard."

It's that mix of heartache, fear of the unknown, and frustration that lead a group of roughly a dozen and a half nurses to stand in silence and in solidarity outside of the entrance of Regional Medical Center in San Jose Wednesday morning, holding signs for 30 minutes.

"We don't want to be spreading it ourselves so we just want to have the right PPEs" said Emmanuel Bangan, R.N.

DONATE: How to donate medical supplies to hospitals in the San Francisco Bay Area

Their pleas are the same as other nurses, doctors, and healthcare staff across the country. They need more protective equipment and they need it now.

"I'm in the room taking care of someone who is COVID positive, I'm wearing that one mask and then if I have to go into another room to take care of a patient who is a potential rule-out for COVID-19, then I'm exposing that patient" explained Miriam Razaqi, R.N.

With what few N95 masks these nurses said they are provided by the hospital they are required to re-use them for days at a time.

"We have to use them one each day and the next day and the next day and the next day until it goes bad," said Bangan.

RELATED: Medical supply shortage takes toll on Bay Area nurses, doctors

The nurses acknowledged that Governor Newsom and leaders in the Bay Area are doing there best to acquire more protective equipment for those on the front line, but warned if more and more public servants fall ill, who will be there to serve the public?

"It's really hard. I hope it will be over soon, but in the meantime we need the help to protect us, to protect our patients, our loved ones at home, our community as a whole" said Pham.

ABC7 News reached out to Regional Medical Center of San Jose and was provided the following statement:

We are letting our employees know that this is not a time to create conflict and dissension within our hospital, as we are doing everything possible to protect caregivers and patients. This is the time to depend on each other, trusting that we are doing everything possible for each other to come together as as a hospital family and deliver on our mission. We are deeply committed to protecting colleagues and our patients every day, including when faced with this unprecedented medical crisis.

Across the globe, this pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of PPE as COVID-19 cases and utilization of PPE exceed the ability of suppliers to manufacture PPE. This is not a challenge that is unique to any other hospital or health system in the United States. We have taken the following actions regarding the provision of PPE and pay for our nurses and care team:

  • Enacted universal masking for all of our employees
  • Appointed a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for COVID-19 where and when it is needed most
  • HCA has created strategically located PPE distribution centers across our campuses to quickly deliver equipment
  • Established pandemic pay continuation programs

We stand ready. We stand together.

While nurses protests outside of Regional Medical Center of San Jose this morning, there was a simultaneous protest by nurses at Good Samaritan Hospital of San Jose as well.

Nurses said they plan to protest outside of the hospitals again at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

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