Ten nurses have been suspended from their jobs at a Santa Monica, California, hospital after refusing to care for COVID-19 patients without being provided protective N95 face masks.
One of those nurses, Mike Gulick, says the decision was heart-wrenching but after a colleague tested positive for the infection he felt he had to take a stand.
Other nurses Tuesday protested what they said was inadequate personal protective equipment at a hospital in Fresno, California, where 10 nurses have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
According to Gulick, Providence Saint John's Health Center in Santa Monica claimed that the masks weren't necessary and didn't provide them to nurses. Last week, a nurse in Gulick's ward tested positive for COVID-19. The next day, doctors doing rounds told the nurses they needed better protective equipment.
That was the last straw for Gulick, who told the hospital that he and nine other nurses would not treat COVID-19 patients without an N95 masks. According to the nurses' union, all 10 nurses have been suspended with pay.
The hospital did not comment on the suspended nurses, but said in a statement Tuesday that it was providing N95 masks to all nurses caring for COVID-19 patients.
It’s no secret there is a national shortage,” the hospital said in a statement.
The CDC does not require healthcare workers to wear N95 masks while treating patients, but many hospitals have been providing them despite a national shortage because the masks block 95% of airborne particles.