Nurses around the country, including in Florida, are protesting a lack of support and personal protective equipment (PPE) from HCA Healthcare (HCA) amid the coronavirus pandemic. They contend that HCA is not protecting frontline workers, while the hospital giant denies these accusations.
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Inadequate Access to Equipment Is the Issue
The group contends that it was forced to use inferior products or reuse equipment for multiple shifts—and both of these tactics increase the risk of cross-contamination.
In response, SEIU 1199 organized at least two active protests, including locations at the University Hospital in Tamarac and Northwest Medical Center in Margate on Thursday, April 23, 2020. There were dozens of nurses who participated in the protests.
The protesters stated that recent HCA changes prevented nurses from using N95 masks. This measure even affected nurses treating coronavirus patients with intubation, suctioning, or nebulization.
These procedures all use aerosol mechanisms, which can circulate more air in a closed space and cause nurses to be at a higher risk for contracting the virus.
HCA Paints a Different Picture
HCA is a large healthcare company that operates nearly 50 healthcare facilities in Florida. It is a Nashville, Tennessee-based company that owns more than 185 hospitals along with 2,000 additional sites that include surgical centers, emergency rooms, and urgent care clinics throughout the United States (US) and the United Kingdom (UK).
The hospital corporation believes that it is doing enough to protect frontline nurses and has been doing so since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. The company says its efforts include requiring all staff to wear masks, screening all individuals who enter facilities, and providing clean scrubs for every shift.
There Were Alternatives to HCA’s Decision to Go Into Crisis Mode
HCA has enacted “crisis capacity.” Crisis capacity refers to a set of guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) when PPE is in limited supply. This decision is in contrast to alternatives such as contingency or conventional capacity.
The difference between each capacity is described below:
- Conventional: The hospital is operating without any changes to daily operations.
- Contingency: The hospital may change how it uses clinical rooms to address the current need. Practitioners may conserve supplies at this point.
- Crisis capacity: Crisis capacity requires the hospital to do the best that it can with what is available.
Since HCA went into crisis capacity, hospitals are only authorized to issue N95 masks when nurses are caring for patients who have tested positive for coronavirus.
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Contact a Florida Professional Regulation Law Firm for Answers
If you are a nurse working on the frontlines of the coronavirus pandemic and were affected by HCA’s decisions, you may want to contact a Florida professional regulation law firm to find out if you have any form of recourse due to negligence.
The Law Offices of Anidjar & Levine offers nurses a free consultation to explore their options by calling us at 1-800-747-3733.