Nurses speak out against lack of supplies at local hospitals

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SAN DIEGO — Local nurses are speaking out about what they call unsafe conditions for healthcare workers amid the coronavirus pandemic.

On Friday, nurses from the UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest spread out across the hospital’s front lawn during their lunch break to protest a lack of personal protective equipment, like N95 respirator masks.

“We are frustrated, upset and horrified,” ICU nurse Shannon Cotton said. “We call on the government’s state and federal leadership to provide us with hospital-grade N95 respirator masks now. If nurses aren’t protected, patients aren’t protected.”

The nurses at UC San Diego Medical Center in Hillcrest said they have been told to wear surgical masks — but according to the nurses, there is evidence those masks don’t fully protect against COVID-19. Even so, they said they face punishment if they bring their own masks to work.

“We’ve been told that wearing homemade masks will result in discipline,” nurse Michael Kennedy said. “That’s very insulting to us.”

The nurses said the obvious concern is the likelihood of transmission, which would endanger not only them but other patients in their care.

“Some of us will get sick,” Kennedy said. “It’s kind of just luck of the draw really.”

Meanwhile, county leaders said Friday as far as they know all requests for equipment from the emergency operation centers they are in contact with are being filled.

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