The National Nurses United (NNU) is holding a day of action Wednesday to demand hospitals and elected officials better protect them with more Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) and a safe number of patients amid the COVID-19 health crisis.
The walkouts include hospitals in California, with involvement from the California nurses union, along with 15 other states across the country, including Florida, Georgia, Illinois, North Carolina, New York, and Texas, and Washington, D.C.
“Nurses know that this country’s rampant social, economic, and racial injustice has been killing our patients all along. COVID-19 is just forcing us as a society to face these problems,” said Bonnie Castillo, RN, and NNU executive director. “These recent COVID surges and uncontrolled infections and deaths, the failure of employers to protect our nurses and other workers, the outrageously high rates of unemployment and hunger, the totalitarian crackdown on protesters -- every crisis we are seeing now can be traced back to our failure to value human lives over profit.”
The nurses are additionally demanding Congress to help struggling households by urgently passing legislation to extend COVID economic benefits that expired in July.
Also, RNs are demanding that the Senate pass the HEROES Act, a pending bill they are backing that would not only protect health care and other essential workers by ensuring domestic production of PPE through the Defense Production Act and by mandating that the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration establish an emergency temporary standard on infectious diseases, but also provide desperately needed economic help in the form of cash payments, extended unemployment benefits, and daycare subsidies through the end of 2020 to families on the brink.
“Nurses are still at risk,” said Mary C. Turner, an intensive care unit RN and president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, whose members are participating in the actions. “We still reuse PPE that was meant to be discarded. We still care for COVID-19 patients and non-COVID patients at the same time. And we still struggle to protect ourselves so we can protect our patients.“
“COVID has exposed everything that has been wrong with our system,” said Zenei Cortez, RN and a president of NNU. “The old way was a huge failure. Now is the time to reenvision a world based on nurses’ values of caring, compassion, and community.”
National Nurses United is the largest and fastest-growing union and professional association of registered nurses in the country, with more than 155,000 members nationwide.