About 30 furious nurses and their relatives protested a shortage of masks and gloves in front of Jacobi Hospital’s Emergency Room in the Bronx early Saturday, demanding the government provide personal protective equipment immediately.
The nurses stood six feet apart, holding signs reading “Healthcare before Profits,” “Respect Public Healthcare Nurses” and “We Risk our Lives to Save Yours #ppenow.”
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams joined the nurses, who gave The Post a nightmarish glimpse of working in vulnerable conditions without proper safety equipment. Nurses said some people have resorted to stealing protective equipment.
“We’re all at risk if we lack the supplies we desperately need,” Kelly Cabrera, a registered nurse, said. “It’s a pandemic. If we get sick, our community gets sick. We are all people and our patients deserve better.”
Prior to the worst of the coronavirus outbreak, hospital policy had been that nurses should use a new N95 mask during every patient visit. But in early March, they were told that one N95 mask can be re-used for a week. Nurses said that policy is unsafe, unscientific and a result of the equipment shortage.
A notice to staffers sent by Jacobi Chief Medical Officer Michael Zinaman and Chief Nurse Officer Suzanne Pennacchio said, “N95s can be re-used up to five days per H+H [Health+Hospitals] guidelines.”
Sean Petty, a pediatric nurse at Jacobi, summed up the terrible scope of the problem.
“We have a national shortage of N95 masks, we have a national shortage of ventilators, we have a national shortage of hospital beds, of ICU beds,” Petty said. “We need billions of N95 masks. This policy that was put out by the CDC is killing nurses. We already lost our first nurse in New York City. We’re gonna lose more.”
Fumed Petty, “It’s not sinking into the heads of people in charge of running this crisis.”
Jeffrey Yao, a nurse in the ER at Jacobi, said conditions are dire all over the city.
“I’m thinking about our brothers and sisters in Elmhurst,” Yao said. “They’re in a surge and they’re dying out there. Coming to work is just stressful. You come into work thinking are they gonna have supplies for us today? I go home to my two kids and I’m wondering if I’m gonna get them sick.”
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