The Phoenix Flyer

FL registered nurses file federal complaints to protest unsafe working conditions during pandemic

By: - July 14, 2020 2:27 pm

Nurses protesting lack of protective equipment. Credit: National Nurses United

Registered nurses at three Florida hospitals are reporting unsafe working conditions and retaliatory actions by employers, for speaking out against dangerous work environments and patient care practices during the pandemic, according to National Nurses United union.

An affliate of NNU filed the complaints to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) at St. Petersburg General Hospital, Largo Medical Center and Northside Hospital in St. Petersburg, all in Pinellas County. OSHA enforces health regulations in the workplace.

The nationwide NNU announced the information in a media advisory on Tuesday, and said nurses will be taking action over their plight Wednesday at 7:30 p.m, at St. Petersburg General Hospital.

“RNs from all three HCA facilities will gather in a social distancing action at St. Petersburg General to warn that conditions are rapidly deteriorating with multiple safety problems since Florida’s premature “re-opening,” according to the media advisory.

The Florida Phoenix has earlier written about conditions facing nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic and now, a surge in COVID-19 infections in Florida has continued.

In Tuesday’s media advisory, the registered nurses cited a series of unsafe conditions, from staff shortages and inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment (PPE) to improper isolation of COVID-19 patients and threats against nurses who report “unsafe patient care practices.”

At the Northside Emergency Room, “nurses have reported having to care for as many as 16 patients at a time with the pandemic raging through the hospital and county,” the NNU said.

“Patients have been placed in non-COVID units because of inadequate staffing throughout the hospital which puts other patients at risk.”

According to the union officials, the OSHA complaints state that the hospitals have failed:

/to inform each employee how they are to report a work-related illness due to COVID-19;

/to provide union representatives and RN-employees access to records of COVID-19 illnesses which require recording and reporting;

/to inform RN-employees exposed to COVID-19 of its procedure for reporting work-related injuries and illnesses, and

/to inform RN- employees exposed to COVID-19 that they have the right to report work-related injuries and illnesses.

The Phoenix contacted the three hospitals for comment, and are awaiting a response.

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Issac Morgan
Issac Morgan

Issac Morgan is a 2009 graduate of Florida A&M University's School of Journalism, and a proud native of Tallahassee. He has covered city council and community events at the Gadsden County Times, worked as a sports news assistant at the Tallahassee Democrat, a communications specialist for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, and as a proofreader at the Florida Law Weekly.