California Hospital Reinstates Suspended Nurses Who Asked For Masks

At least ten nurses who were suspended for demanding adequate protective equipment while treating COVID-19 patients are headed back to work this week, the National Nurses United union said in a statement late Tuesday.

Last week, ten nurses at Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica were placed on administrative leave after they informed their managers they would not enter a COVID-19 patient room without N95 masks. At the time, hospital administrators told the nurses they should wear surgical masks, and that the respirators were unnecessary, even as other healthcare workers at the hospital were provided the N95 masks.

"I really was just fed up and demanded that my hospital do better and do right for us," Michael Gulick, one of the suspended nurses, told CNN at the time. "Especially when we saw blatant signs that there's no reason why there should be a shortage."

N95 masks are able to filter 95% of all airborne particles, including ones too small to be blocked by regular masks.

The hospital has since reinstated the nurses and says it will now supply the N95 masks to nurses working with infected patients.

Current CDC policy recommends that healthcare professionals treating COVID-19 patients wear N95 respirators. While N95 masks are preferred, surgical masks should only be worn when no other options are available, the agency says.

The California Nurses Association organized the drive-around protest of the hospital on Tuesday, as they asked for the reinstatement of the nurses.

Health officials in Los Angeles County have reported more than 15,140 this morning and the number of deaths in the county due to COVID-19 was 666, after Pasadena officials reported three additional fatalities.

The county's public health director, Barbara Ferrer, announced 1,400 new cases overall on Tuesday, however, a high number of the new cases, around 880 of those, were due to a newly cleared backlog of earlier testing results.

Photo: Kris Ankarlo

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