Harvey nurses protest over lack of protective equipment during COVID-19 pandemic

ByABC 7 Chicago Digital Team via WLS logo
Saturday, April 11, 2020
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A group of nurses held a silent protest outside of a hospital in south suburban Harvey Friday.

HARVEY, Ill. (WLS) -- A group of nurses held a silent protest outside of a hospital in south suburban Harvey Friday.

The nurses said they don't have enough protective gear at Ingalls Memorial Hospital.

In a statement, the hospital said the nurse's union seems more focused on exploiting the pandemic for contract negotiations. But hospital officials said extra measures have been taken to provide a safe environment for nurses and caregivers.

The full statement from Ingalls Memorial Hospital has been provided below:

"Ingalls Memorial is committed to providing a safe work environment for our nurses and all caregivers working on the frontlines against this pandemic. We have guaranteed wages and extended benefits during this time to ensure staff who have been infected by COVID-19 stay home to recover and do not have to worry about any financial implications of missing work - regardless of how or where they acquired the virus. We are also covering wages and benefits for employees who are self-quarantining at home while they await test results.In addition to these guaranteed wages and extended benefits, Ingalls continues to protect its nurses, doctors, other staff and patients by providing masks, gowns, gloves and all other protective gear recommended by local, state, and federal health officials. We regret NNOC seems more focused on exploiting a pandemic for contract negotiations than the care of the public. Included in our efforts, we have:Instituted a new universal-masking requirement, effective late last month.Required every employee who enters the hospital to be screened to ensure they do not have COVID-19 symptoms.Continued to enforce our strict social distancing policies.Suggestions that we are cutting nurses' pay during this public health crisis are patently false and are a distraction from the compassionate and essential work our nurses are providing to the community of Harvey and beyond. Proposed increases to Wellness benefits will, in many cases, offset increases in healthcare insurance plan premiums that all employers are facing at this time. This means many nurses could see a decrease in healthcare costs. Nurses will be considered for wage increases this summer consistent with our existing practices, just as they have been in the past.We must remain focused on providing the best care to our community and giving our nurses and frontline caregivers all the tools and protections they need to carry out this important mission."

A spokesperson with National Nurses United released a statement saying, "The protest held by Ingalls Memorial nurses was not a silent protest. The nurses spoke forcefully about not being given N95 masks and proper personal protective equipment, about nurses from the Ingalls psych unit being forced to float without training to the ER, and lack of appropriate staffing. Their warnings should be heeded; a psychiatric patient who was COVID positive successfully committed suicide the very next day on a telemetry unit at this hospital, due in large part to understaffing, lack of appropriate competencies, and lack of PPE."