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Nurses File Cal-OSHA Complaint After Hospital Refuses to Supply Swine Flu Masks for Units with Infected Patients
Date:7/14/2009

OAKLAND, Calif., July 14 /PRNewswire/ -- RNs from the California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee (CNA/NNOC) have filed an urgent plea with the state of California to step in and force Sutter Solano Hospital to provide nurses with proper safety equipment when they care for patients infected with the H1N1 "swine flu" virus. The nurses fear that the unsafe procedures at the hospital create a danger of infection for every patient at the facility, as well as for the surrounding community.

The plea comes as nurses are actively caring for hospital patients infected with the virus, and with up to 10 RNs from the facility experiencing severe respiratory illness in recent weeks that their physicians have called "probably" the swine flu, leaving them physically unable to work.

The nurses requested assistance from the California Division of Occupational Health and Safety just days after the World Health Organization re-classified H1N1 as an "unstoppable" Level 6 pandemic, with the number of confirmed cases worldwide approaching 100,000, and 170 confirmed deaths in the United States alone.

Sutter Solano has purchased so few of the proper N95 masks that most nurses working with patients are unable to procure an adequate supply of disposable masks. Last week, the union raised their concerns with management. On Friday, the hospital supplied new masks that did not properly fit, making them useless for stopping the virus. Management responded by ordering the nurses to wear a contact mask on top of the ill-fitting N95 masks but the nurses raised concerns because doing so can increase carbon dioxide retention in the mask wearer. Earlier that week, management had given nurses a single mask in a plastic bag, with instructions to re-use it repeatedly, rendering the mask useless for infection control purposes. Compounding these problem
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SOURCE California Nurses Association/National Nurses Organizing Committee
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