Henry Mayo nurses to hold rally over PPE, recent staff layoffs

The new Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital Patient Tower is pictured on Wednesday, December 19, 2018. Dan Watson/The Signal
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The registered nurses of Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital are set to hold a rally Saturday over what they perceive to be issues with reusing protective equipment and recent staff layoffs. 

In a news release distributed Friday afternoon, the nurses said they have been asked to reuse their personal protective equipment, or PPE, when treating patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, a practice that can spread pathogens. 

“The hospital’s decision to ration PPE and implement unsafe PPE protocols not only leaves the nurses open to exposure and infection of disease, it also increases the risk that patients will be exposed and possibly infected,” said a news release from the nurses’ union. 

The hospital disputed the nurses’ statements about the PPE issues in a statement issued Friday.

“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.”

The nurses are also rallying against recent layoffs that have removed “experienced nurses from the emergency department despite current staffing shortages, which can negatively impact care,” according to the statement.

“Nurses are working above and beyond the California safe RN-to-patient staffing ratios law, which is designed to provide a minimum standard for safe patient care,” according to the nurses’ union. “Throughout the hospital, there is an ongoing problem of short staffing, which leads to delays in patient care, an increase in workplace violence threats, and, most unfortunately, a number of patients being forced to leave the hospital without ever being seen by medical staff.”

Henry Mayo officials also disputed the claims about staffing shortages endangering patient safety in their statement on Friday.

“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 said.

The registered nurses meeting Saturday have said 19 nurses were laid off, and now they’re being asked to work overtime, which, they say, could lead to more errors in patient care. 

The rally is scheduled 10-11 a.m. at Heritage Park, located at 24155 Newhall Ranch Road.

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