Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital nurses and fellow staff members held a rally Saturday in Valencia to protest recent staff layoffs and the orders they’re being given for personal protective equipment.
Lisa Duarte, a Henry Mayo emergency room nurse and one of the protesters standing at the corner of McBean Parkway and Newhall Ranch Road, said she and her colleagues were taking time out of their Saturday morning to protest — holding signs and cheering at those who drive by and honk to show their support — to highlight what they see as unsafe conditions for both them and the community. The hospital challenged the protesters’ claims in an emailed statement.
The emergency room nurses are being asked to sign out and in their PPE equipment during their shifts, use the same mask throughout a shift and are also being asked to use PPE that has been sanitized for reuse, according to Duarte.
“How would you feel if you were expected to go into a room with a COVID patient and wear the same mask, and then go into the next room with a COVID patient and wear the same mask?” said Duarte. “It doesn’t make you feel like you’re a very safe provider of care.”
Thirty-five nurses from the hospital were laid off recently due to the decreased intake in the emergency rooms and optional procedures, two departments where a bulk of hospital revenue stems from, Duarte said.
Hospital representatives said their inventory of protective gear is carefully managed.
“We have carefully managed our PPE inventory levels throughout the COVID-19 pandemic to ensure we always have adequate supplies of PPE for our staff,” according to Patrick Moody, a spokesman for the hospital, in a statement emailed to The Signal, “and our PPE protocols meet all state and federal safety requirements.”
Duarte contended that management wasn’t putting patient or staff care first.
“Their main concern is the volume of patients, which equates to the monetary profit for them, then you’re gonna have layoffs of people that are part of the community and working in the hospital for 20-plus years,” said Duarte. “And then you’re gonna have all the staff around them that’s gonna say, ‘Wait a minute, you know you don’t care about your nurses, you don’t care about your ancillary staff.’”
Hospital officials referred to Friday’s statement in response to the nurses’ union claims.
In addition to the nearly three dozen nurses, 22 medical/surgical staff members, eight in the emergency room, one in cardiac rehabilitation, two in case management and one in nursing education have also been laid off, according to Bernita Jenkins, a labor representative for the California Nurses Association.
The nurses said the point of their rally on Saturday was to shed light on the need to bring back their laid-off colleagues and to ask for changes to the sanitation procedures.
On Friday, the hospital issued a statement disputing the notion that the hospital’s practices were unsafe and that the floors in the hospital were being properly staffed.
“As for staffing levels, we staff all our units to ensure we safely meet the needs of our patients, and we adjust staffing levels when necessary,” Moody added.