EL PASO, Texas (KVIA) -- Nurses from El Paso area hospitals gathered Wednesday to protest a lack of optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) and adequate staffing while working alongside patients with Covid-19.
"Nurses are being asked to use their N95 respirators for anywhere from 12 hours to a whole week," said Idali Cooper, who has been a nurse for more than 20 years.
CDC guidelines report it can be challenging to determine how long a respirator can be worn, but note respirators can typically function effectively for eight hours of use.
The demonstration was part of a larger National Day of Action hosted by National Nurses United, as well as The National Nurses Organizing Committee (NNOC). A representative with National Nurses United said the group wants hospitals to dedicate more funding to PPE.
El Paso nurses marched Wednesday between The Hospitals of Providence Memorial Campus to nearby Las Palmas Medical Center.
"It's solidarity because we all have the same message," Cooper said. "We all have the same concerns of getting and using optimal PPE to keep all of us safe."
Just a day ago, Texas Governor Greg Abbott had referred to state PPE supplies as "abundant" and said the state would continue to be able to provide PPE to "schools, to hospitals, to nursing homes, to testing sites, to any operation within the state of Texas that's going to need PPE in response to the pandemic."
A spokesperson from Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare wrote in response in part, "We have adequate supplies of PPE, and we have instituted a universal masking policy requiring all caregivers in all areas to wear masks, including N95s, in line with CDC guidance."
The representative also added, "At a time when hundreds of hospitals across the country are laying off and furloughing caregivers because of significant declines in patient volumes and despite unprecedented challenges over the last six months, Las Palmas Del Sol Healthcare has not laid off or furloughed a single caregiver due to the Covid-19 pandemic, nor have we instituted a hiring freeze."
A spokesperson from the Hospitals of Providence wrote in part, "Our hospital is fully operational and our staff’s focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care. We value all of our nurses who are represented by the NNOC. The demands of Covid-19 have placed a great strain on all hospitals and we remain committed to protecting the health and safety of our patients and staff. We continue to follow the guidelines set by the Texas Department of State Health Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention."