UCSD Health Workers Voice Concerns Over Coronavirus Protective Equipment – NBC 7 San Diego

UCSD Health Workers Voice Concerns Over Coronavirus Protective Equipment – NBC 7 San Diego

Employees at UC San Diego Health voiced concerns that they’re not being given the equipment they need to keep them safe as they treat patients with COVID-19.

“We are in close contact with patients at all times, so it is absolutely essential that we have the highest level of personal protective equipment,” said Michael Kennedy, a UC San Diego Health nurse and a CA Nurses Association Representative.

Usually, nurses are given N95 respirators to treat patients
with COVID-19 as it’s designed to
filter out at least 95% of airborne particles

The virus is thought to spread through respiratory droplets
produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes. It’s mainly from
person-to-person, according
to the CDC

Kennedy says up until a few days ago UC San Diego Health and other area hospitals stopped using N95 masks.

On March 10, the Centers
for Disease Control (CDC) changed the guidelines
for healthcare workers who
treat patients with COVID-19. The changes are that workers are now able to use facemasks
as an “acceptable alternative when the supply chain of respirators cannot meet
the demand.”

But Kennedy states that guideline differs from what the state’s Division of Occupational and Health Safety Administration (CAL/OSHA) recommends.

“The CAL/OSHA standards require an N95 respirator to be worn at all times, we expect UC San Diego as a world-class institution to aspire to the highest possible protection for its nurses,” Kennedy said.

In a statement sent to NBC 7, UC San Diego Health said in part:

“As COVID-19 continues to evolve and spread in our community, we are following the WHO and CDC’s latest evidence-based changes to how we care for possible COVID-19 patients.

The availability of N95 respirators is constrained globally. UC San Diego Health’s supply chain managers are monitoring the daily use of supplies and took early action to secure a supply of N95 respirators. UC San Diego Health, and all responsible health care systems, are following strategies provided by the CDC for optimizing stocks of N95 respirators. These include regular reminders to staff to conserve N95 respirators through best practices, such as using them only when they are required; distributing respirators daily to teams caring for patients under airborne precautions; and implementing practices that allow for extended use or limited reuse of N95 respirators for non-COVID-19 cases.”

On Saturday, UC San Diego Health announced two health workers tested positive for the virus. They stressed the workers did not contract the virus at the hospital and they did not have any interaction with patients being treated for COVID-19.

“We are concerned that UCSD and other area hospitals are not prepared for the coming outbreak. This pandemic is just beginning,” Kennedy said.

Nurses at UC San Diego Health said they will be reporting respirator violations to the state.

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