Fountain Valley Regional Hospital nursing assistants and technicians claim they’re not being tested for the coronavirus and are forced to reuse equipment and hospital management is mixing coronavirus and non-virus patients.
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The National Union of Healthcare Workers, which represents many of the hospital’s workers, is slated to hold a news conference in front of the hospital at 11 a.m. Thursday.
“So if you’re working the COVID floor, there’s a mix of patients. And you’re a nursing assistant … it’s very common that you’re going to get to care for about 10 people per shift, which is a lot,” said union spokesman Matthew Artz.
Artz said the nurse assistants could be spreading the virus because they work COVID-19 floor containing patients who don’t have the coronavirus while not getting fresh equipment.
“Some of the patients are going to be non-COVID and [nurse assistants] get one N95 mask a day. So they’re going to go into a COVID room with the same N95 masks they’re going to go into the non-COVID room,” Artz said.
He said masks would normally be changed out between patients, like a tuberculosis case.
“If you had a TB patient and you went in there and you had an N95 mask, when you left you’d throw it out and get another one before going to the next patient,” Artz said. “But the rules have been relaxed … they’re following the current, barest standard being allowed.”
Tenet Health, which owns Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, was still working on a response to the workers’ concerns as of Wednesday afternoon.
Orange County’s virus case positivity and hospitalization rates have been spiking, along state trends — causing county health officials to close OC bars and state officials to severely curb operations at restaurants and movie theaters.
Artz said Tenet health isn’t testing the workers either.
“They’re not testing workers who have good reason to think they’re exposed,” Artz said.
The workers also allege hospital management isn’t automatically testing all new patients for the virus.
“Most hospitals where we have members are testing everyone they’re admitting for COVID,” Artz said.
The union represents 15,000 employees across the country, including 600 workers at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.
At least four employees contracted the virus, according to a Wednesday news release from the union.
“Two of those workers tested positive after caring for patients who turned out to be COVID-positive, but had not been initially tested by the hospital. Last week, a medical transporter informed management that a household member had tested positive for COVID-19, but was denied a test and told to continue working,” states the release.
“The transporter was later hospitalized for COVID-19, and at least five colleagues have either become ill or been required to quarantine due to exposure.”
Spencer Custodio is a Voice of OC staff reporter. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @SpencerCustodio
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