Miami, Aug 5 (efe-epa).- The United States’ largest registered nurses union held protests Wednesday in at least 16 states and Washington DC to demand stricter compliance with Covid-19 control practices and a safe patient workload in hospitals.
The National Nurses United also said in a news release prior to the demonstrations that they are calling for a “dismantling of the structural racism that prematurely and disproportionately ends the lives” of people of color, whether due to the coronavirus or “at the hands of police violence.”
Outside Miami’s V.A. Medical Center, nurses chanted “PPE” (personal protective equipment) and held up signs and wore masks with the message “Save Lives, Protect Nurses” before going inside the building to start their work day.
A banner at the site of that protest, one of more than 200 that the NNU is holding inside and outside hospital facilities around the country, read “Heroes Caring for Heroes.”
Other groups of nurses in Florida demonstrated with the same signs outside Fawcett Memorial Hospital in the Gulf coast city of Port Charlotte and outside Oak Hill Hospital in Brooksville, a town north of Tampa.
They also asked motorists to honk their horns in solidarity with the union’s demand that elected leaders and hospital employers “take immediate action to save lives.”
More than 165 nurses have “needlessly lost their lives to Covid-19,” the NNU said Tuesday on Facebook.
In a Monday press release announcing the protests, the NNU said that nurses would be demonstrating to bring attention to the nation’s failure to “value human lives over profit.”
“Inside hospital walls, nurses want employers to protect nurses, other health care workers, and patients by following proper infection control practices, which include providing optimal PPE and a safe workload of patients,” that union, which has more than 155,000 members, said.
According to a July survey of more than 21,000 nurses, only 24 percent said they thought their employer was providing a safe workplace and 43 percent said they were worried about the possibility of infecting a family member with the coronavirus.
Overall, 87 percent of nurses in hospitals reported reusing at least one piece of PPE that is intended for single use.
The president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, Mary Turner, was quoted in the press release as saying that medical professionals like her who work in intensive care units “are still at risk” months after the onset of the pandemic in the US.