Minneapolis nurse alerts hospital, state to ill-fitting respirator masks

Close-up of N95 respirator mask during an outbreak of COVID-19 coronavirus, San Francisco, California, March 30, 2020. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

A concern about how certain respirator masks were fitting at Hennepin County Medical Center over the weekend led the hospital to take action after a nurse spoke up.

The hospital reported the situation to the state of Minnesota after a vigilant nurse on duty over the weekend noticed something strange on Saturday: her mask wasn’t fitting properly.

The nurse took her concern to leadership and Hennepin Healthcare said the masks in question were pulled from use. It’s not clear how many of the masks were pulled and how many hospital staff had used them, but the hospital is following up with those team members.

In a statement, Hennepin Healthcare said it is assessing the product and that the, “review is ongoing and the respirators are no longer in circulation. The supplier reports no previous concerns with the product, but we remain in conversation with them.”

It added, “We remain vigilant in light of those who are trying to use the pandemic to take advantage of health care systems. We don’t know if that was the case here, but the safety of our patients and staff remains our top priority.”

It’s just one more thing Minnesota Nursing Association President Mary Turner says healthcare workers need to be aware of. She encouraged them to speak up like this nurse did if they feel something isn’t right.

“Say something. If you think something is wrong, you need to say something,” Turner said. “We need to protect each other. We need to stay vigilant.”

Hennepin Healthcare didn’t have information on who the supplier is and cannot say if they’ve purchased masks from them before.