Nurses protest lack of COVID protections within Providence health system


More access to PPE, testing among nurse's demands

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — Nurses gathered in Northeast Portland Saturday to protest a lack of COVID protections for them within the Providence health care system. The car caravan started at NE Halsey and traveled by several buildings associated with providence.

Providence Portland Medical Center had a COVID outbreak last month, just one of the reasons some nurses told KOIN 6 News they were out protesting,

The outbreak was among patients who were not originally sick with the virus and it reportedly spread to other workers, too. Thirteen patients were sickened on an 18-bed floor. Of the 217 workers on the floor, 36 tested positive and 24 have since returned to work.

The unit was closed for cleaning and has not yet been reopened. Providence is still investigating the outbreak and does not have a known cause–they’re also conducting genomic testing. The last positive test connected to the outbreak was on December 31.

“Nurses have been concerned since the beginning of the outbreak that we haven’t been routinely tested and that the PPE that has been- that we were told was adequate wasn’t going to be adequate and now we’ve had an outbreak and that isn’t surprising for us,” Resident Nurse Kim Martin of Providence Portland and Oregon Nurse Association Member told KOIN 6 News.

“There’s a lot of things we don’t have as far as what are the industry standard in terms of COVID protections,” added RN Virginia Smith of Providence, who also is an Oregon Nurses Association Member. “For example, I only got two N-95 masks since the beginning of this whole pandemic, so PPE is something that is really important to us.”

Smith went on to say that she knows a lot of colleagues who are now out of work and not getting paid because of COIVD. She said she’s attending the car caravan protest to get the word out to Providence that nurses there deserve “what the rest of the system has, or what the rest of the health care systems have.”

The nurses say the management is not listening to them, even though they say they’ve repeatedly asked for better protections for months. Here is a list of some of the things they’re asking for:

  • Appropriate access to personal protective equipment (PPE)
  • Better access to testing at work
  • Better testing for patients
  • Benefits to cover time off if exposed to the virus

KOIN 6 News reached out to the administration at Providence and they said they weren’t commenting on the situation at this time.

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