Fed-Up Nurses File Lawsuits, Will Head to White House

Names of dead health care workers will be read aloud at Tuesday protest
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Apr 21, 2020 7:22 AM CDT
Fed-Up Nurses File Lawsuits, Will Head to White House
In this April 2 photo, nurses at Montefiore Medical Center Moses Division in New York City hold an "urgent community speak out" in front of the hospital, demanding N95s and other critical personal protective equipment to handle the COVID-19 outbreak.   (AP Photo/Bebeto Matthews)

The largest union of nurses in the US will gather outside the White House on Tuesday to read aloud the names of colleagues who have died during the COVID-19 outbreak and to demand more money for better protective gear. National Nurses United wants Congress and President Trump to invoke emergency measures to provide money for N95 masks and other types of protection. Coverage, including the first major lawsuits filed collectively by nurses:

  • The anger: "We’re tired of being treated as if we are expendable," NNU President Deborah Burger tells the Washington Post. “If we are killed in this pandemic, there won’t be anybody to take care of the rest of the sick people that are going to come.” Later, she added, "We’re beyond angered at this.” She estimates that more than 100 names will be read aloud at Tuesday's White House protest.

  • Three lawsuits: The New York State Nurses Association has sued the state health department and two hospital systems there (Montefiore and Westchester), citing inadequate protection. It's one of the first collective legal actions by health care workers amid the outbreak, per CNBC.
  • Personal stories: The lawsuits include first-person accounts from the nurses, who describe "war zone" conditions. Read them here. "I began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including cough and fever,” says Montefiore nurse Pamela Brown-Richardson in her affidavit. “I reported my symptoms to Montefiore and asked for testing. I was informed that Montefiore would not test me... I obtained testing on my own... [and] found out that I tested positive for COVID-19.”
  • Specific demand: Among other things, the New York nurses want enforcement of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's directive that each direct-care nurse receive a new N95 mask daily, reports CNN. "New York's hospitals have turned into petri dishes where the virus is allowed to spread, unchecked by basic protective equipment and measures," say attorneys for the union in a memorandum of law.
  • Taking a stand: During protests against the state lockdown in Colorado, nurses in scrubs stood in counter-protest among the protesters, reports NBC News. One in Denver, who gave her name only as Alexis, said the protests felt like "a slap in the face to medical workers." Nobody wants to be stuck at home, she said, but "that's not the point."
(More nurses stories.)

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