Making a difference, from the halls of Olympia to the streets of Seattle #
We have had a busy few weeks, pushing Washington state for stronger PPE guidelines and access to PPE data, speaking out against the public health crisis of racism and ensuring our members have the protections they need now and in the future.
Washington State Adopts Stronger PPE Guidelines
Thanks to the advocacy of WSNA and our allies, on June 8 Washington state adopted the CDC’s PPE Guidelines – a stronger standard than the former PPE conservation guidance issued by the State Department of Health.
The biggest difference between these two guidelines concerns N‑95 respirators. Reprocessing/decontamination of N‑95 respirators and storing and reusing N‑95s for multiple patient encounters now falls in the “red” (Crisis Capacity) category. This means that hospitals employing these uses must readjust performance of non-urgent surgeries and procedures.
Gloria Brigham, WSNA’s Director of Nursing Practice, put together this update summarizing key provisions associated with use of N‑95 respirators and facemasks. (This is a PowerPoint with audio and is best viewed in “slideshow” mode.)
You are our eyes and ears. If your facility is using reprocessed N‑95s or directing you to reuse N‑95s by doffing and placing in a bag for storage, please let your Nurse Representative know so we can hold hospitals accountable!
Find contact info for your facility at https://www.wsna.org/union/local-units.
Access to the WA HEALTH Database
Each day, Washington hospitals are required to report PPE levels to the state. Earlier this week, WSNA was granted access to this database which will allow us to monitor PPE levels at our represented facilities – helping us better advocate for you to have the PPE you need. An initial review of this database shows that some facilities have PPE stockpiles that should allow them to return to conventional use of some types of PPE.
Reporting of Health Care Workers Testing Positive
WSNA has been pushing for public reporting of the number of health care workers testing positive for COVID-19. The Governor’s Office this week committed to including this in the next update of the WA HEALTH database, and this information will be publicly reported soon.
Vulnerable Worker Protections Extended
This week, Governor Inslee extended his proclamation that protects vulnerable workers during COVID-19. Under this proclamation, workers at high risk have a series of rights and protections, including:
- The choice of an alternative work assignment, including telework, alternative or remote work locations if feasible, and social distancing measures.
- The ability to use any accrued leave or unemployment benefits if an alternative work assignment is not feasible and the employee is unable to safely work. Employers must maintain health insurance benefits while high risk employees are off the job.
- Employers are prohibited from permanently replacing high-risk employees.
High-risk individuals are defined by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and specifically include:
- 65 years of age or older; and
- People of all ages with underlying medical conditions, particularly if not well controlled.
The extension lasts until August 1, 2020.
STANDING UP AGAINST RACISM
On June 6, WSNA staff and members joined thousands of health care colleagues from across the state in downtown Seattle to march against racism and police brutality. Our shared message: “Racism is a public health emergency.”
As our WSNA President, Lynnette Vehrs, and the chair of our Cabinet on Economic & General Welfare, Julia Barcott, stated:
“We as a country are facing a double crisis. We are fighting to slow the spread of the coronavirus and to get nurses and other health care workers what we need to safely care for our patients. We are also facing the crisis of systemic racism manifested in the killing of George Floyd and many other black and brown people at the hands of the police. Racism is a public health emergency as much as the coronavirus pandemic is, but it can’t be solved by developing a vaccine, instituting widespread testing or social distancing.
This is why as nurses, as a professional association and as a labor union, WSNA is supporting the efforts led by black organizations to protest systemic racism and bring justice for George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Manuel Ellis and too many other black people who have died at the hands of law enforcement officers.” Read the full statement.
OTHER HELPFUL INFORMATION
Hotels for Nurses
Seattle Executive Pacific Hotel
In Seattle, the hotel provided by the City of Seattle for nurses and first responders is still available until June 21, 2020. This hotel can accommodate healthy people, as well as those who need to quarantine or isolate due to COVID-19.
To reserve a single occupancy room at Hotel Executive Pacific (Seattle)
- Please call WSNA at 206 – 575‑7979, ext. 6004.
- We will ask you a few questions about your stay needs.
- We will coordinate with the hotel to make your reservation.
Hotel 116, Bellevue
In Bellevue, the hotel provided by the King County Executive’s Office for nurses and health care workers is still available until June 30, 2020. This hotel can only accommodate healthy people.
To reserve a single occupancy room at Hotel 116 (Bellevue)
- Please call WSNA at 206 – 575‑7979, ext. 6004.
- We will need your last name and the last four digits of the ID number on your hospital badge.
- We will work with the hotel to validate your stay.
- You will then be able to call the hotel to reserve a room.
Reopening of K‑12 Schools
On Thursday, OSPI released its approach to reopening of Washington K‑12 schools. Here is a link to the Reopening Washington Schools Guide.
If you need childcare this summer or for the fall, please contact Child Care Resources at 1 – 800-446‑1114 or www.childcare.org. This organization can connect you with available childcare slots in your area.