Charlotte Co. nurses protest over lack of protective equipment

Posted at 10:42 PM, Apr 01, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-01 22:50:30-04

PORT CHARLOTTE, FLA — Nurses are used to caring for others needs, but at Fawcett Memorial Hospital some are saying that their own needs are being neglected in a dangerous way.

"If nurses aren't protected from the virus, then our patients can never be protected," said nurse June Phillips.

They say they're either running low on, or are not given enough of, the proper tools like masks, gloves and gowns to treat patients.

Instead they say they're being forced to do things like this:

"When you're done with the mask, you're to place in a baggy so they can recycle it," said a nurse who wanted to remain anonymous.

With 24 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in Charlotte County, and more expected, these nurses protested outside of the hospital Wednesday, asking for the proper protection to treat their patients.

"You just constantly, you're scared," said nurse Cynthia Butler.

In an email on March 9, a spokesperson for the hospital told Fox 4 that they were prepared to "handle potential issues related to COVID-19."

Fawcett Memorial Hospital has protocols in place to care for patients with infectious diseases, and we are working diligently to help ensure we’re prepared for potential issues related to COVID-19. At this time, our hospital is not treating any confirmed cases. Our preparedness efforts include reinforcing appropriate infection prevention protocols and guidance from the CDC, ensuring we have necessary supplies and equipment, and emergency planning. Part of our preparedness includes setting up tents outside the emergency room entrance as a precautionary measure in the event of an influx of potentially impacted patients. In addition, as we often do during heavy influenza outbreaks, visitor restrictions have been instituted in patient care areas. Starting this week, visitors and patients are being directed to use specific entrances to allow visitors to be screened. We have positioned supplies at points of entry, so that any potential symptomatic patient who arrives can be properly masked and immediately isolated to protect our colleagues and other patients.

We continue to work in partnership with the Charlotte County Health Department and the CDC and will provide updates to our hospital and medical staff as necessary.

Today, Fox 4 asked them if they stood by that claim and they said they did.

Fawcett Memorial Hospital currently has adequate supplies, and all caregivers and physicians receive a mask after successfully completing the screening process.

When we asked the nurses what they thought about that, they had this to say:

"I've been a nurse for over 25 years and I have never had to reuse masks.And if in a situation like this where we're reusing masks, how could it be that we have all the supplies that we need? That's not true," said Phillips.