Coronavirus: SoCal nurses protest, demand personal protective equipment

Nurses from three hospitals in L.A. protested Friday, demanding more personal protective equipment for colleagues helping to treat COVID-19 patients.
SANTA MONICA, Calif. (KABC) -- Nurses from three hospitals in Los Angeles County protested Friday morning over what they say is a lack of personal protective equipment.

The group demanded more personal protective equipment for colleagues helping to treat COVID-19 patients and those suspected of having the virus. Protests were held at hospitals in Santa Monica, San Pedro and Torrance.

Earlier this week, 10 nurses were suspended from their jobs at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica after refusing to care for COVID-19 patients without being provided protective N95 face masks. The 10 nurses were suspended with pay.

"The patients were coughing directly in our face," said registered nurse Jack Cline. "We told them we wouldn't go back into those rooms until we had an N95 respirator. They kept asking us, 'Are you refusing your assignment?' We said, 'No, we're not refusing our assignment, but we are refusing to go into that room without a mask.'"

Coronavirus: Santa Monica nurses suspended for refusing COVID-19 care without N95 mask
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Ten nurses have been suspended from their jobs at a Santa Monica hospital after refusing to care for COVID-19 patients without being provided protective N95 face masks.



Saint John's wouldn't comment on the suspensions but said in a statement that as of Tuesday it was providing N95 masks to all nurses caring for COVID-19 patients and those awaiting test results.

Since then, the nurses at that hospital say the facility has been providing appropriate personal protective equipment but claim that too many coworkers have already contracted the virus. The union representing the nurses, National Nurses United, says different units and different shifts are provided varying levels of personal protective equipment.
But some of the nurses say the hospital's actions are a little too late.

During the protest, the nurses supported colleagues who have contracted the virus, speaking out on current conditions amid the pandemic.

"I'm also a nurse that has tested positive for COVID," nurse Angela Gatdula said during a video interview. "I believe I contracted COVID while I was at work because we did not have enough protection."

Gatdula's symptoms range from a dry cough to severe body aches.

"They had given us a surgical mask only and they told us this is the only protection you need," Gatdula said.

Now, other nurses have serious concerns.

"If the nurses aren't safe, then the patients aren't safe," said registered nurse Allison Mayol.

Protests were also held at St. John's Medical Center, Providence Little Company of Mary San Pedro and Providence Little Company of Mary Torrance.

Meantime, a separate protest was held Thursday night at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center. Nurses and other staff are angry over what they say is a dire shortage of medical equipment.

The group hosted a "drive-a-thon" during their shift change, demanding the decontamination of the N95 respirator masks they use, as well as safe staffing levels and full employment for first responders.

Eyewitness News reached out to UCLA Medical Center for comment and has not yet heard back.

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