- The Washington Times - Thursday, April 2, 2020

The National Nurses Union organized protests of HCA hospitals’ preparedness for the coronavirus outbreak outside their hospitals in Florida, North Carolina and Texas.

The protests taking place outside six hospitals on Thursday are small gatherings that respect social distancing guidelines that halt groups of larger than 10 people from convening, according to Bradley Van Waus, National Nurses Union spokesman.

The union says nurses working at HCA hospitals do not have proper protective equipment and are not being notified when they have encountered a patient infected with coronavirus.

“When nurses aren’t protected, patients aren’t protected,” Mr. Van Waus said. “We’ll keep advocating until nurses get what they need.”

An HCA Healthcare spokesman said the hospitals are doing everything they can to properly equip its patient care teams.

“The National Nurses Union is trying to use this crisis to advance its own interest — organizing more members,” the spokesman said. “Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, our goal has been to protect our front line clinicians and caregivers so they are able to continue to care for our patients and communities. … While we are doing everything in our power to secure additional supplies, and we are following [Centers for Disease Control and Prevention] protocols for using and conserving [personal protective equipment], the worldwide shortage is a reality that we are addressing with realistic, workable solutions.”

Mr. Van Waus said the handful of organizers were outside each of the hospitals mainly from 6:30 a.m. until 8 a.m., and surveyed medical professionals changing shifts fighting the coronavirus. He said he hopes the protests send a signal to the hospitals that it’s high time to focus on nurses’ care.

The nurses union has 150,000 members nationwide, including 10,000 registered nurses at HCA Hospitals. Mr. Van Waus said the protesters carried “COVID-19 checklist” posters with them as they gathered outside the hospitals.

“For the wealthiest hospital corporation in the United States to show such disregard for the health and safety of its caregivers is disgraceful and unconscionable,” said Jean Ross, National Nurses United president, in a statement.

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