SANTA MONICA (CBSLA) — As medical professionals work on the front lines to save people amid the coronavirus pandemic, some are afraid of being penalized for speaking out over lack of protective supplies.
Jack Cline, a 20-year employee of Providence St. John, is one of ten nurses at the Santa Monica hospital that has been suspended after asking for more personal protective equipment or PPE.READ MORE: Man In His 20s Dies Hours After Being Shot In Long Beach; Motive Unknown
“Some nurses are afraid to say anything,” said Cline. “They need their job, they are single parents. They can’t afford to lose their job so they go into those rooms scared.”
The nurses are requesting N95 masks when treating COVID-19 patients, rather than the less-protective surgical masks that the hospital was having them use.
Nurse Mike Gulick said weeks ago he was showering in hotels in order not to bring home the virus to his wife and 2-year-old child.
“I love what I do I do it with my whole heart, but I want my job to be safe for me so that I can continue showing up to work,” said Gulick.
He and other nurses said doctors were also telling them not to go into COVID-19 patients’ rooms without an N95 mask on.READ MORE: What To Expect As 'Supercharge' Storm Moves Into SoCal
“So having their clinical judgment and having their directive in saying, ‘You shouldn’t go into these patient rooms unless you have that minimal protection’ gave us a lot of motivation to finally take a stand,” Gulick said.
According to the nurses, they began to speak up after their colleagues began to get sick.
“They said ‘No, you don’t need one. You can use a surgical mask and that’s all we are going to give.’ We didn’t feel safe going in there so they sent us home that day,” said Cline.
Last Thursday, three nurses were sent home, and another seven in the following days.
All ten nurses were out on paid administrative leave pending an investigation.
“They are asking us if we disobeyed a direct order and they asked us if we neglected our patients or abandoned them,” said Cline. “We didn’t do either one, we did not neglect our patients.”MORE NEWS: 'Supercharge' Storm Expected To Bring Heavy Rainfall To Southland
Providence St. John did not comment on the suspensions but said they are working on getting new equipment and finding ways to properly clean the N95 masks they already have.