IRVINE (CBSLA) — More than 50 UCI Medical Center nurses aired their frustration Friday afternoon over what they say is a lack of personal protective equipment used to keep them and their patients safe.

“We are here today to demand UCI to give us our PPE,” Maria Louviaux, a UCI Health nurse, said.

The group of nurses and staffers were demanding that medical personnel at the facility be given N95 respirator masks — an item they said was kept under lock and key.

“What do you want? PPE! When do we want it? Now,” the group chanted while marching with signs on the front lawn of the hospital.

“We’re here to fight,” Louviaux said. “Even just to wear our surgical mask throughout our shift, we have to fight for that, and unless nurses meet certain criteria, we aren’t allowed to wear masks. In fact, we are intimidated and on the verge of bullying at times by managers and directors.”

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UCI Health said in a statement that any staff member who wishes to wear masks is able to do so and that any medical worker who interacts with patients who have or are suspected of having COVID-19 must wear extension personal protective equipment.

“Given uncertainty about future availability of these supplies, UCI Health and medical centers across the University of California Health system have adopted safe conservation protocols. This broad conservation effort includes keeping PPE secure so they are available for health care workers who need it.”

The nurses marched from the front lawn of the hospital to UCI Health administration with a petition, but we unable to get through the door to deliver it.

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