By SAMANTHA CASTRO
Nurses in the Bronx division of Montefiore Medical Center on Thursday begged President Trump and other officials for life-saving personal protective equipment as coronavirus cases in the borough rose to staggering numbers.
“Today I stand with the nurses to call upon Donald Trump, upon our local and our hospital leadership,” said resident physician standing outside the hospital. “Stop looking for PPE that doesn’t exist and start producing it. We are past the point of last resort.”
The persons quoted were unidentified because of the shortcomings of remotely viewed news conferences.
As the Bronx had the highest number of deaths and hospitalizations in New York, the national epicenter of the pandemic, according to the CDC, the need for PPE’s becomes urgent. They hospital workers were being required to reuse their masks, gowns, and face shields and even bring their own sanitation products like bleach spray and wipes.
“Reusing contaminated items puts me at risk, it puts you at risk, it puts everyone in the healthcare building at risk,” said a nurse who strictly works in a COVID-19 positive unit. “We are accepting patients without the right equipment and the right staffing. It is a recipe for patients to die, healthcare works to get sick due to exposure.”
One of the nurses who spoke announced that a few days ago he tested positive for COVID-19. He conjectured that he would not have contracted the virus if he had had the proper equipment and working environment.
Besides the need for more equipment, the nurses were demanding that the hospital administration improve the overcrowded conditions.
“For years, we have been sounding the alarm here at Montefiore for our hospital [adminstration] and government to control the overcrowding and dangerous conditions in this hospital,” said one nurse that’s worked for the community for decades. “Now our worst fears have been realized. I find it unacceptable for an institution that is supposed to protect us refuse to hear our pleads and our cries.”
Similarly, nurses from another hospital in the Bronx, Jacobi Hospital’s Emergency Room, protested on March 28 to demand the federal government to provide more PPE.
The New York State Nurses Association circulated a petition insisting President Trump to use the Defense Production Act to its full potential. Currently, President Trump is using the act to ensure the production of ventilators but not PPE.
“Every day, nurses and healthcare workers are being sent into battle without armor,” said Executive Director of NYSNA Pat Kane in a press release on April 2. “We’re calling on the President to listen to frontline healthcare workers, not corporate lobbyists or the Chamber of Commerce, and use his powers under the DPA to produce and distribute the PPE we so desperately need.”