Local nurses on the front lines of the COVID-19 fight say calls for basic safety equipment are being ignored

Some local nurses on the front lines fighting COVID-19 say their calls for basic safety equipment are being ignored and that?s putting their patients, themselves and their families at risk.

BOSTON — Some local nurses on the front lines fighting COVID-19 say their calls for basic safety equipment are being ignored and that’s putting their patients, themselves and their families at risk.

Cambridge Health Alliance nurses from three facilities are calling on management to provide safer working conditions.

“We know we do not have the PPE, the staffing, the equipment and the testing we need to do this job," said Susan Wright-Thomas, a nurse at Cambridge Hospital.

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Wright-Thomas was joined by other nurses outside Cambridge Hospital on Wednesday afternoon. They say management won’t listen to their pleas for help.

“We asked repeatedly over the past weeks to be heard but were met with continually with excuses," said Wright-Thomas.

Nearly three-quarters of the seven hundred nurses who work for CHA signed a petition. Some things they asked for include one new and one unused N-95 mask per shift, hazard pay of ten dollars more an hour for licensed workers and five dollars more an hour for unlicensed workers. They also want CHA to provide on-site or remote testing for the coronavirus.

Nurses, however, say their calls fell on deaf ears.

“Their response has been an unequivocal rejection of every one of the demands made in the petition," said Wright-Thomas.

This comes as they say many of their health care workers on the front lines have already caught the coronavirus.

“At least 152 CHA caregivers, 20% of our workforce, have tested positive for COVID-19,” said Wright-Thomas.

Jillian Brelsford, a nurse on a COVID floor, says they face horror stories daily.

“Our safety was so compromised on my unit we figured out how to make back up gowns of out trash bags,” said Brelsford. “We were forced to provide COVID care on my floor without N-95 respirator protection.”

Nurses say the virus is not going anywhere and without proper equipment many more will suffer, get sick or even die.

“Our safety is your safety and your safety is ours," said Wright-Thomas.

The CHA later released a response to the demands for more PPE, which you can read here.

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