Health Care Workers Demand More Personal Protective Equipment

Doctors are supposed to put on a new N95 mask for each patient they see, but some are breaking that protocol to stretch supplies.
Posted at 6:15 PM, Apr 01, 2020

The White House and some governors continue to butt heads over the lack of and the need for personal protective equipment, or PPE, on the ground. In real life, frontline health workers say they are risking their lives.  

Sachiko Kiyomi told Newsy: "I'm a little bit scared to speak because … all these nurses getting fired because they spoke too much. But, you know, if we want to do the right thing, like to protect myself and protect others, I think we do need more. In general, we need more gear so we can do what we were told to do."

Sachiko Kiyomi is a registered nurse who works in a nursing home in New York City. Protocol says N95 masks are supposed to be disposed of after each patient, but she's worn hers for an entire day to stretch the hospital's supplies. 

Sachiko: "We're working with a fear."

Cat Sandoval: "Would you work still if there is no PPE gear?"

Sachiko: "Oh, yes. … Yeah, I will wear whatever: napkin, whatever I can do."

Without proper medical supplies, some health care workers have resorted to bandanas and trash bags; this doctor was handed a plastic rain poncho instead of a medical gown. Online, health care workers are using the hashtag #GetUsPPE to demand more supplies. 

Dr. Zubin Damania: "Any administration that is misbehaving during this time, you, the frontline clinicians, hold them accountable. If we all speak out at once, they cannot fire us. You know why? They desperately need us."

It's not just health care workers, but hospitals desperate for supplies are asking for donations. They say they need sanitizers, surgical masks, goggles.

Chicago Surgeon Dr. Lauren Streicher has been pushing for cloth masks not as a replacement for N95s but to help prolong their use.

Streicher: "If you have that health care worker who only has one N95 and they have to make it last as long as possible, they can actually put this mask extender over their N95."

As frontline health care workers continueto speak out about the lack of PPE gear, some hospitals are threatening to fire them

Streicher: "Any health care workers that are speaking out should speak out louder and scream and yell, and anyone who penalizes them, quite frankly, should be penalized. ... These health care workers are not only fighting for their lives, they're fighting for the lives of the patients they're taking care of."

Cat Sandoval, Newsy, Chicago.