Monroe nurses join national demand for more protective gear

The health care workers say they are reusing the same gown and mask throughout 12-hour shifts.

MONROE — Nurses at EvergreenHealth Monroe and across the country protested Thursday, calling on the federal government to provide more protective masks, gowns and other equipment needed on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

At 1 p.m., workers on breaks or switching shifts stood six feet apart outside the hospital, demanding President Donald Trump to use the full authority of the Defense Production Act to bolster the country’s supply of personal protective equipment. While reports are showing Snohomish County may have seen the worst of the virus in the last two weeks and that hospitals may not see a previously anticipated surge, health care workers say they are still treating COVID-19 patients and don’t have enough gear to protect themselves.

“We want to make sure that we’re not spreading any sort of sickness or disease from the patient to us and from us to other patients or people in our community,” said Josh Tompkins, a certified nursing assistant at EvergreenHealth Monroe. “When we reuse (equipment), there’s that potential of the bacteria getting on to that, and then to our skin and onto someone else.”

Ideally, staff would use new equipment each time they saw a patient, he said. Health care workers in Monroe are reusing one gown and mask throughout 12-hour shifts, and N95 masks are only used for certain treatments.

Hospitals are doing the best they can with limited resources, Tompkins said. It’s the federal government that needs to act.

That help may not come.

As reports and health officials continue to say social distancing has helped slow the spread of the virus, supplies are being shifted from Washington state to the East Coast.

“It is frustrating to see that supplies aren’t being equally distributed, especially when we see people exhibiting symptoms,” Tompkins said.

Representatives for EvergreenHealth Monroe did not respond to immediate requests for comment.

The SEIU, which represents thousands of nurses in Washington, has been calling for more personal protective equipment for weeks. In a briefing last week with reporters and local health care workers, Sen. Patty Murray called on Trump to boost federal aid.

“So far, this president hasn’t pushed all the buttons that he can,” she said. “We should’ve stepped up several months ago, we need to be stepping up now. … I have been disappointed, discouraged, angry and all of the above since day one when we first heard of the potential and now the pandemic. We are behind because there was no urgency coming from the top.”

Nurses at Swedish First Hill in Seattle and St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Tacoma also took part in the protest. Union organizers called the event Thursday the largest one-day protest of health care workers during the COVID-19 crisis.

Joey Thompson: 425-339-3449; jthompson@heraldnet.com. Twitter: @byjoeythompson.

Talk to us

More in Local News

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, front, talks to reporters in Olympia, Wash., Thursday, Oct. 14, 2021, as Secretary of Health Umair Shah looks on. Inslee announced that starting Nov. 15, people in the state will need to either provide proof of COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test in order to attend large events. (AP Photo/ Rachel La Corte)
With vaccine deadline here, some fired in Snohomish County

Some workers sought an injunction against Gov. Inslee’s mandate. That effort fell flat Monday, the deadline to get vaccinated.

Hillside homes in Mukilteo are seen from the ferry line on Oct. 20. (Andrea Brown / The Herald)
Mukilteo asks for input on housing density, and it’s complicated

Here’s a guide to what voters should know about the advisory ballot measure. What does it actually do?

2 years later, charges filed in ‘unusual’ deadly crash in Everett

Dakotah Allett, 27, crashed into two vehicles on the side of I-5, leaving one woman dead, the new charges say.

Lake Stevens worker’s protection order granted against boss

The worker and his boss, Public Works Director Eric Durpos, were put on leave for an incident at a grievance meeting.

Police: Man showed up to ex-wife’s Everett home, stabbed ex-roommate

The suspect, 47, of Seattle, was booked into the Snohomish County Jail for investigation of first-degree assault.

Edmonds school returns to remote learning after 26 COVID-19 cases

The Madrona K-8 school building was closed Tuesday due to the outbreak. It is expected to reopen Nov. 1.

Top (L-R): Nicholas Swett, Stephanie Vignal, Benjamin Briles, Connie Allison. Bottom (L-R): Eric J. Cooke,  Brian Holtzclaw, Melissa Duque, Adam R. Morgan.
Mill Creek candidates divided on future of housing, growth

Eight people are vying for four City Council seats. Some of them are railing against new apartments.

Top (L-R): Louis Harris, Peter Zieve, Kevin Stoltz. Bottom (L-R): Tom Jordal, Steve Schmalz, Alex Crocco.
Race for Mukilteo City Council is a mix of old and new names

Housing, waterfront and public safety top the list of concerns for candidates.

Most Read