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Aug. 5 -- More than a hundred CNA/NNOC registered nurses rallied on the steps of the University of California San Francisco Medical Center today with a simple message for the public: California and the nation’s hospitals are not prepared to handle the H1N1 influenza, known as swine flu, when it hits the country full force this fall, and frontline registered nurses, other healthcare workers, patients, and the public are all in serious jeopardy.

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The rally came on the heels of several major swine flu events alarming to registered nurses. Last week, Sacramento registered nurse Karen Hays became the first healthcare worker to die of the virus. She had been a fit, 51-year-old athlete, and her family suspects she was exposed while at work. Also last week, a registered nurse at UCSF claims she was not informed a patient she was treating had swine flu, then was fired for speaking up about swine flu after she began exhibiting symptoms. Last month, registered nurses at Sutter Solano Medical Center filed a complaint with Cal-OSHA about the hospital’s failure to provide and fit them with proper N-95 respiratory masks though RNs are caring for swine flu patients.

"The hospitals in California don’t have plans, they don’t know what they’re doing," said Jill Furillo, RN and CNA/NNOC’s Southern California director.

Preliminary surveys by CNA/NNOC and interviews with RNs reveal that hospitals lack consistent policies to deal with swine flu, and even if they do have policies, employees are not educated about following them or provided and fitted with the proper equipment, such as N-95 masks, to do so.

At UCSF, Erin Carrera, a recovery room RN, said that coworkers are having trouble finding masks when they need them. Also, RNs are not always explicitly informed about a patient who likely has swine flu. "When patients are coming up from the emergency department, there are certain symptoms that should automatically trigger they be put in isolation," said Carrera. "But that’s not happening."

James Darby, RN and chief nurse representative at UCSF, said it was appalling that hospitals are actually punishing RNs who are speaking up about being inadequately prepared. "If you complain, if you speak out, if you speak up about adequate materials that we need to take care of our patients, if you speak up about more staffing to take care of our patients, UC’s message is that they will retaliate," said Darby at the lunchtime rally. "My message to UC is that you may retaliate, but the nurses will not stop advocating for our patients."

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Here's one report from the SJ Mercury News.  Here's another from AP.

Originally posted to National Nurses Movement on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 11:31 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (17+ / 0-)

    The RN Super Union: the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (AFL-CIO)

    by National Nurses Movement on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 11:31:22 AM PDT

  •  Keep screaming about this. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pris from LA, Mdfog10

    It is so necessary.
    Thanks for the post.

  •  Wait..wait... (7+ / 0-)

    ...let me get this straight.

    "...hospitals lack consistent policies to deal with swine flu...coworkers are having trouble finding masks...RNs are not always explicitly informed about a patient who likely has swine flu."

    Nurses aren't asking for bailouts, massive funding, research initiatives, benefits, or laws. They just want to be told if someone has the flu, and a paper mask?

    That's it?

    Well, you nurses need to step up your game. You should at least be asking for stuff like:

    1. Permission to cut the tops off of mountains,
    1. Permission make billions in loans with government money or,
    1. Million-dollar bonuses every time you lose a patient.

    Asking for just paper masks is so last-century.  Show some imagination!

  •  Is this an honest discussion? (0+ / 0-)

    Or is it the opening salvo in a contract negotiation war?  I mean, is that it? A nurse just was "speaking up about swine flu" and was fired for that?  Got any links to any other version of the story?

  •  If the nurses aren't protected... (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    KenBee, RN4MERCY, Mdfog10

    ...imagine how unprotected "the medically homeless" are.

    Single Payer Health Care just makes good sense in times of pandemics.

    Single Payer Happy Hour, returning to the LA (SFV) area 8/28/09!
    Senator Feinstein! You are ON NOTICE.

    by Pris from LA on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 12:18:54 PM PDT

  •  Nurses not the only ones abandoned (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pris from LA

    I have a relative who is doing vector control work as part of his public health job, it's currently unfunded, but so far he's still doing it until the bean counters get him in trouble for it.
     The problem is that there is a rabies outbreak with people and pets being attacked and bitten by rabid wildlife.
     The police came a splattered a rabid fox all over a yard, where it had bitten a cat and it's owner. Great, now there are rabies causing meats for all the local pets and wildlife to sniff out.
     (Roadkill is also highly suspect as rabid, never handle it, or it's parts or fluids. Use gloves, plastic bags if you must, but treat the remains, all the remains, goo included especially, as very dangerous.  Sunlight will maybe kill the rabies virus in a day or two, but who is counting, and why, really? Bleach the remains to help be (more) sure of safety.)
     Bitten people are so stupid they are running away from the scenes of these attacks because they are afraid of the treatment. Rabies is not very treatable once it's 'caught', yet vector control is still not funded.

      Oh, and it'll never hit the papers because it's bad for tourists to be scared.
      Health workers are also at risk from treating these bite victims.

     This is happening in Northern Calif counties.

    In 2002, the USFS spent $36 million on its Tongass timber sales program, and rec'd back just $1.2 million from timber companies.

    by KenBee on Thu Aug 06, 2009 at 01:33:48 PM PDT

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