Nurses union protesting lack of protective gear at HCA hospitals

Coronavirus

TAMPA (WFLA) – Nurses in seven states, including several in the Tampa Bay area, will protest hospitals owned by HCA, the Hospital Corporation of America, on Wednesday and Thursday.

The protest is organized by National Nurses United, a union that has more than 150,000 members, according to its website.

Gary Mousseau works at Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte, he said in nearly 40 years of being a nurse, he’s never seen anything like this.

“My nurses tell me they’ve been issued one mask per shift,” Mousseau said, noting that N95 masks are intended to be single-use. “Or some are trying to microwave the mask to sterilize it.”

Mousseau said other nurses have been denied the ability to bring in their own masks from home, even though supply is short in hospitals around the country and the world.

Nurses and other health care workers are fighting the coronavirus pandemic amid a shortage of personal protective equipment, or PPE. Many have described having to reuse masks, or use surgical masks instead of more protective face masks, as well as a shortage of other protective gear.

Mousseau said while his endoscopy unit has been handled well, that hasn’t been true for most of the nurses assisting patients with COVID-19.

“We’ve had nurses go into treatment settings with presumptive positive COVID-19 cases without proper PPE,” Mousseau said.

He believes a company with the resources HCA has should have been better prepared for an outbreak.

“HCA has profited $23 billion in the last decade, using most of that for stock buybacks and administrative bonuses,” Mousseau said. “I’d think they would have taken more precautions.”

8 On Your Side reached out to HCA’s media relations team several times on Wednesday, and as of the close of business had not received any statement or opportunity to interview a representative.

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