San Diego Nurses Join Nationwide Protest Calling for More PPE, Safety Measures

Wednesday's local demonstration will be held outside the Palomar Medical Center

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Dozens of North County nurses joined a nationwide protest on Wednesday to call for more personal protective equipment and raise awareness on other coronavirus pandemic-related issues.

Hundreds of protests across the country took place Wednesday and locally, a demonstration was held outside Palomar Medical Center as part of the movement. The National Nurses United (NNU) union organized the effort to protect medical workers who are on the front lines in the battle against the virus.

"The ultimate job of a nurse is to protect the patient, and we can't do that if we're not well," said Joan Marie Reker, a member of the California Nurses Association.

“COVID has exposed everything that has been wrong with our system,” Zenei Cortes, President of NNU, said in a statement. “The old way was a huge failure. Now is the time to re-envision a world based on nurses’ values of caring, compassion and community.”

"Across the nation, nurses are being asked to use single-use, normally it's single-use PPE and to reuse it over and over. We do not believe that PPE should be recycled," Sue Phillips, a Palomar Health registered nurse, said to NBC 7. "There's nothing proven that it disinfects and protects us like it's needed. Nurses and caregivers across the country have died at the hands of this and if that's not serious enough, I'm not sure what else is."

In a statement to NBC 7, Palomar Health said it's complied with state staffing and PPE mandates.

"Palomar Health has always met or exceeded California State mandated staffing ratios and meet or exceed all PPE requirements," it said in the statement.

In addition to more PPE, demonstrators are demanding the U.S. Senate pass the HEROES Act, which would ensure domestic production of PPE. Protesters are also calling on Congress to pass more stimulus relief like cash payments, extended benefits and daycare subsidies through the end of the year.

Nurses in the county protested a few times earlier this year for similar issues like a shortage of PPE, layoffs and safety concerns.

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