EL PASO, Texas -- Nurses staged informational pickets outside Las Palmas and Del Sol medical centers on Wednesday and Thursday demanding more personal protective equipment at the two affiliated hospitals.
Protest organizers contend the hospitals suffer from a lack preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic, putting medical staff and patients at risk.
The local protests were part of demonstrations staged across the country by the National Nurses Union against HCA Healthcare hospitals, which include Del Sol and Las Palmas.
"We are fighting for the community and we are fighting for the nurses," said Tishna Soto, a registered nurse at Del Sol. "We're on the frontlines and you need us. We need to be there and we need to be healthy."
Soto and her fellow nurses at Del Sol want more personal protective equipment, known as PPE, which includes items like the N-95 respirator masks and head-to-toe clothing coverings.
While Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare told ABC-7 it is following CDC guidelines for PPE, some nurses don't feel it's enough.
Hospital officials told ABC-7 they were taking the following steps to protect their employees including:
- Enacted universal masking for all employees
- Appointing a PPE Steward to oversee priority deployment of PPE effective for Covid-19 where and when it is needed most
- Creating strategically located PPE distribution centers across campuses to quickly deliver equipment
Additionally, nurses at Las Palmas said they were exposed to Covid-19 by a physician who tested positive there - and weren't told of the exposure until 48 hours after the hospital was notified.
But Las Palmas officials deny that claim, saying nurses were notified of the situation on the same day as the hospital.