“We certainly understand everybody’s desire to get people back to work, including nurses and other health care providers, but we still have concerns related to adding back those elective procedures because we’re still hearing a lot from our members related to the shortage of personal protective equipment," said Sally Watkins, executive director of the Washington State Nurses Association.
“I will not forget hearing the sound of one of our nurse member’s voice cracking when trying to explain the conditions that she’s working under, shift after shift, with patients getting sicker and dying and her feelings of helplessness," said WSNA President Lynnette Vehrs in a video posted on the nurses association website.
The union has also posted an online petition that demands several things. It asks hospital administrators to provide more PPE. It asks hospitals to provide secure locations for workers to change out of their soiled uniforms. The union asks for a five-dollar-an-hour pay increase to compensate for the increased risk of working with coronavirus patients and paid leave for nurses not allowed to work because they were exposed to the virus.
“The other thing we have some concerns about is making sure we have better testing capability before we go down that road because we’re also hearing about delays and not necessarily seeing that everybody who needs to get tested is getting tested," Watkins said.
The union has collected about 18,000 signatures on its petition.