IRVINE (CBSLA) — Hanging on by a prayer, nurses at the UC Irvine Medical Center said Monday that they do not have enough personal protective equipment, like N95 masks, to treat COVID-positive patients.
“May the light that we shine from our torches make the hospital administrators see that they are harming their own staff,” nurse Karl Fiesta said at a vigil outside of the hospital.
According to the Orange County Health Department, 229 health care workers in the county have tested positive for the novel coronavirus, and a UCI Medical Center spokesperson confirmed Monday that some of the hospital’s staff were among the infected.
“How many more health care workers will get sick before management will listen to our demands,” nurse Shalla Soriano said.
A spokesperson for UCI Medical Center declined an on-camera interview, but said that the hospital has adopted safe conservation protocols for N95 masks and carefully follows guidelines for the use of personal protective equipment outlined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
“The medical center is encouraging us to reuse out N95s,” Maureen Berry, an ER nurse, said. “This goes completely against what we learned as nurses.”
And the president of the nurse’s union, Enrique Trinidad, wondered out loud if that lack of equipment would put not just him, but his family, at risk.
“And I going to get something that’s going to potentially hurt my family and my loved ones,” he said.
The Monday night vigil followed a weekend of protests by hundreds of Orange County residents who wanted businesses to being opening again.
And while nurses said they were honored by a sign outside the hospital that reads “Heroes Work Here,” they said they don’t need the title; they need more equipment.