Nurses protest outside United Hospital for use of hospital-issued scrubs

Nurses protested outside of United Hospital for the use of hospital-issued scrubs.

Dozens of nurses and healthcare workers protested outside of United Hospital in St. Paul Monday afternoon, calling for hospital leaders to allow them to wear hospital-issued scrubs at work.

Staff typically wear their own scrubs, but in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic health care workers say they would prefer to wear the hospital's scrubs, so that they don't have to bring home and clean a used uniform.

"We feel when we bring these scrubs home, they’re contaminated and it puts our family at risk and then also the greater community," said Zetella Caauwe, a United Hospital nurse who organized the protest.

Hospital leaders, however, say giving hospital-issued scrubs to all health care workers is not feasible because is not a large enough supply. The wait to order new scrubs is about 12 weeks.

"At a time when all health care systems are managing limited supplies, Allina Health has carefully weighed and adopted policies for the use and distribution of those supplies, such as scrubs for staff," read a statement from Allina. "These practices are aligned with other local and national hospitals. Our policies prioritize the safety of our staff and patients, while enabling us to allocate the appropriate supplies for daily patient care and for a spike in COVID-19 cases. Allina Health follows personal protective equipment guidelines from the CDC, MDH and its infection prevention experts."

Caauwe says the protest was held the same time as a nurse was having a disciplinary hearing about wearing the hospital-issued scrubs. Allina Health could not comment directly about the circumstances regarding this employee.