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“An act of desperation.” Nurses’ union sues over safety risks and inadequate PPE

The New York State Nurses Association is filing a lawsuit against two local hospitals and the state Health Department over alleged safety risks during the coronavirus pandemic

News 12 Staff

Apr 20, 2020, 9:12 PM

Updated 1,519 days ago

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The New York State Nurses Association is filing a lawsuit against two local hospitals and the state Health Department over alleged safety risks during the coronavirus pandemic.
The suit challenges the department - and Montefiore and Westchester medical centers - saying they failed to protect the health and safety of nurses treating COVID-19 patients.
Nurses say they have not been provided with the necessary PPE, nor adequate provisions for safe working conditions for high-risk employees, including pregnant registered nurses. The suit claims nurses are being forced to work while they're sick, and they're not getting an adequate supply of impermeable gowns, masks and other PPE. They're demanding proper training for those redeployed from other hospital units as well as safer working conditions.
The New York State Nurses Association says it has 42,000 members, and according to the court documents, nearly 1,000 union members have tested positive for coronavirus up to this point, and six have died.
"We would not have been spending your time doing this if we were getting what we needed, that would be a waste of our energy, a waste of our money and a waste of our time. We're only doing this as an act of desperation to protect our staff and to protect our community," says NYSNA president and ER nurse Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez.
Westchester Medical Center responded to the lawsuit, saying in part, "While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we know, and our care providers know, that the allegations in the lawsuit are wrong. Our focus is, and has always been, protecting our workforce, which has been aligned from the outset in treating the most severely ill patients battling COVID-19."
Montefiore Medical Center also fired back against the lawsuit saying, "The New York State Nurses Association leadership has chosen to attack a system, and the commitment of thousands of their colleagues, who have followed the governor's emergency orders and are selflessly doing all they can to fight COVID-19 and save lives."
The state Health Department responded saying in part that the "state continues to take every step necessary to ensure that health care workers, particularly those who are sampling and providing direct care, have the support and supplies needed to address this unprecedented public health emergency."
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