SAN DIEGO COUNTY, Calif. — Healthcare workers on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis are pleading for personal protective equipment that's been promised by the Trump administration.
On Friday, nurses at UC San Diego Hillcrest Medical Center took action and spoke out about the grim reality they're facing on the ground.
They said they need more N95 respirator masks and other protective gear required to safely treat COVID-19 patients.
Members with the California Nurses Association/ National Nurses United said they are forced to lower their standards, putting their lives and the lives of their patients at risk.
Shannon Cotton, a registered nurse in the Intensive Care Unit at UC San Diego Medical Center said, "Honestly when I show up to work everyday, it’s very anxiety provoking. Wondering if I’m going to be able to take care of my patients, am I going to show up there will a mask provided, I don’t know? Will I have to use the same mask the entire shift? We have patients here and staff here that need the N95 respirators now."
According to these nurses UCSD is ill equipped to provide the necessary protective gear to their staff.
Nurse Michael Kennedy said, "They’ve told us to wear surgical masks, which there’s evidence that surgical masks aren’t sufficient to protect against COVID-19."
These nurses said they're worried they'll get infected with the coronavirus and aren't being heard, but the hospital issued a statement to News 8.
"Currently, UC San Diego Health has sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, including masks and respirators, to meet the needs for patients and health workers alike. But like all health systems across the region and country, we are pursuing every avenue to diversify and increase our supply and to ensure continuing, effective levels of protection, not just in the moment but for weeks and months to come. These efforts are based upon CDC and World Health Organization guidelines regarding PPE use and are in accordance with the California Department of Public Health, San Diego County Public Health and University of California.
PPE is available to nurses for any potential COVID-19 patient. PPE for COVID-19 patients is the recommended CDC PPE practice."
Nurse Cotton said they need the government to step in.
Assemblyman Todd Gloria, who also attended the silent protest, said "We have asked for and received about 908,000 N95 masks from the national strategic stock pile but we have a pending request for 20 million N95 masks."
It's the fear of the unknown from those on the front lines.