Pinoy Nurses in US Demand Better Ebola Care Preparedness, Higher Wages

At least a dozen Filipino nurses joined a November 12 rally at Providence Hospital in Northeast D.C. protesting alleged inadequate Ebola preparedness for health workers and patients.

The walkout is part of a National Day of Action from California to Maine, organized by the National Nurses United (NNU). The group is calling for tougher Ebola safety precautions in American hospitals at the same time that is it asking for higher wages and better benefits.

The nurses, who are in the middle of contract negotiations, held a two-day rally outside the hospital building and held an afternoon vigil in front the White House last week.

“We are striking because despite repeated concerns about safe staffing and patient care the administration has repeatedly declined our demands, and they are not addressing the patient safety concerns putting the patients and the nurses at risk,” bedside nurse Liselle Natividad told The FilAm Metro D.C.

Providence Hospital is denying the allegations.

Rose Ann DeMoro, NNU executive director, said “Nurses, who have been willing to stand by the patients whether it’s the flu, whether it’s Ebola, whether it’s cancer, are now being asked to put themselves in harm’s way unprotected, unguarded.”

Natividad, who has been working for the hospital for six years, said they have had problems of understaffing for years, and the nurses are “still practicing under unsafe practices.”

“The usual nurse patient ratio is 1 nurse to four patients,” she explained. “But there have been numerous countless occasions where I worked with six to seven patients and I think it is not fair. We deal with elderly people average age is 50s, 60s to 90s and they need more care.”

“We want safety and equity among nurses that would include safe nurse-patient ratio, benefits, transparent and fair pay scale among nurses,” she added.

Natividad who works at the medical and surgical unit voiced her fear on Ebola safety preparedness, saying, “Because we didn’t have formal training. I personally think that if ever we will have a patient in Providence we are not equipped to care for such patient.”

According to an NNU statement, nurses are asking for full-body Hazmat suits that meet the American Society for Testing and Materials F1670 standard for blood penetration and F1671 standard for viral penetration and that leave no skin exposed or unprotected.

They are also clamoring for National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health-approved powered air purifying respirators. They said they need training, on how to use these equipment.

Providence Hospital, which is also part of the Ascension Health hospital chain, employs about 60 Filipinos – or 15 percent — out of a total of 400 nurses.

Providence denied to ABC News allegations by the nurses’ union and said it was “disappointed by the union’s decision” to strike.

The hospital said it is well-equipped to handle any potential Ebola cases.

“Providence Hospital is prepared for the identification and safe care of patients with highly communicable diseases, such as Ebola. In fact, our protocols were evaluated by the D.C. Department of Health and follow the strict guidelines established by Centers for Disease Control,” the officials said in a statement.

Providence remains open during the strike, though some medical procedures are being rescheduled, hospital officials said. Replacement nurses are in place, they said.

(Source: MARICAR CP HAMPTON, The FilAm Metro DC)

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