Press Release

Charlie Norwood VA Augusta Medical Center nurses to join 139 nationwide ‘May Day’ actions demanding COVID-19 protections for nurses, health care workers

Nurse at shift change outside VA

Charlie Norwood VA Augusta nurses will be marking Friday, May 1—International Workers Day, also known as “May Day”—with a lunch time act ion calling for optimal COVID-19 protections. This local action is part of nurse actions taking place at 139 hospitals, in 13 states, representing more than 95,540 nurses, according to National Nurses United (NNU).

Nurses say their demand for optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) is underscored by the fact that more than 60 nurses across the country have died of COVID-19; although, due to lack of testing, the number is surely higher.

“Nurses signed up to care for their patients. They did not sign up to sacrifice their lives on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said NNU Executive Director Bonnie Castillo, RN. “On this day that celebrates the labor movement and working people, union nurses are standing up to demand the protections they need now!”

"RNs are very concerned that the VA management continues to not place asymptomatic RNs, who have been exposed to COVID-19, in quarantine and on safety leave. When exposed RNs continue to work, this can further spread of C0VID-19 to the veterans they take care of, their co-workers and their families. The VA must continue to follow precautionary principles so we can stop the spread of this," said Michelle Rodriguez, RN, NNU Member

National Nurses United registered nurse members are calling on employers and the government to provide nurses and other health care workers with the highest level of protections, including powered air-purifying respirators, and single use of N95s and coveralls that incorporate head coverings and shoe coverings, and gloves. Otherwise, hospitals will remain fomites for infection, say NNU RNs, and nurses and health care workers will continue to get sick and sidelined, die, and be unable to care for the next wave of patients.

Nurses say it’s clear that the industry thinks they have produced an acceptable solution to the PPE shortage by implementing widespread use of various N95 decontamination systems. This is unacceptable and unsafe, say nurses, who are calling on President Trump to activate the Defense Production Act to order the mass production of PPE. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) must also pass an emergency temporary standard to mandate that healthcare employers provide protections needed for COVID-19, say nurses.

May Day action will take place Friday, May 1 at:

Charlie Norwood VA Augusta Medical Center
950 15th Street, Augusta, GA 30901
12:00 p.m.
Contact: Jonathan Weitz, 646-460-7734