Press Release

Mission Hospital RNs to Protest Lack of COVID-19 Preparedness

Protest sign outside hospital

Registered nurses at HCA’s Mission Hospital in Asheville, NC will hold a public protest tonight, April 9, at 6 p.m. over what they say remains the hospital’s ongoing lagging response to preparedness for the coronavirus pandemic at a time cases are skyrocketing in the state.

Observing social distancing protocols, RNs will stand outside the hospital to survey their other RNs reporting to work at shift changes.

They will be marking checklist results on a large survey board as to whether their hospital has adequate PPE for RNs, proper isolation for infected patients, notification to staff about COVID-19 cases, and adequate testing for infection of staff.

The Mission RNs warn that inadequate preparedness by their hospital administration, which includes a substantial shortage of N95 respiratory masks and other personal protective equipment places nurses, other staff, and patients at risk of infection with the deadly virus.

Earlier this week, it was reported that the number of COVID-19 cases in North Carolina has more than doubled, passing 3,000, just in the last week. Buncombe County has reported at least 31 cases and one death attributed to COVID-19.

What: Protest by Mission Hospital RNs
When: Tonight, Thursday, April 9, 6 p.m.
Where: 509 Biltmore Ave, Asheville, NC

Last week Mission RNs delivered a petition to hospital management, signed by hundreds of nurses, expressing concern about conditions for nurses, other staff, and patients in the face of the rising pandemic.

They called on the hospital to respond within a week. Yet they say the hospitals have failed to respond to their concerns and has even been furloughing large numbers of RNs, rather than taking proper action for current conditions or preparing for an expected surge of COVID-19 patients.

Among key concerns in the petition, Mission RNs called on the hospital to:

  • Clearly communicate with all RNs, including notifying nurses when there is a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case.
  • Provide in-person, hands-on education and training for all RNs, including on protective gear, donning and doffing, and all other protocols related to COVID-19.
  • Provide the highest level of protection including functioning negative pressure rooms and personal protective equipment for nurses providing care to all possible and confirmed COVID-19 cases.
  • Plan for surge of patients with possible or confirmed COVID-19 including plans to isolate, cohort, and to provide safe, optimal staffing ratios for all patients under investigation.
  • Conduct a thorough investigation after a COVID patient is identified to ensure all staff and individuals who were exposed are identified and notified. Place any nurse exposed to COVID-19 on precautionary leave for at least 14 days and maintain pay and other benefits during the full length of that leave.

Similar protests were held last week at 15 other HCA hospitals in Florida, Texas, Missouri, Kansas, Nevada, and California.

NNU, which represents 10,000 RNs at 19 HCA hospitals in California, Florida, Kansas, Missouri, Nevada and Texas, is demanding that HCA provide the optimal personal protective equipment (PPE) for nurses and other staff. That means N95 respiratory masks or the more protective Powered Air Purifying Respirators (PAPR), and other head to toe coverings.