ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - M Health Fairview nurses belonging to the Minnesota Nurses Association held a vote to show they have "no confidence" in hospital management's response to the novel coronavirus pandemic.
Nurses who took part in the vote work at University of Minnesota Medical Center-West Bank, Fairview Southdale, St. Joseph's, St. John's, and Bethesda hospitals.
"M Health Fairview is flagrantly violating the safety and staffing protections jointly agreed to by nurses and management, and yet our incredibly dedicated nurses are still throwing themselves into harm’s way to protect the public," said Modest Okorie, a registered nurse at Bethesda Hospital, in a press release.
Thursday morning, leaders at Bethesda Hospital gave media a tour of the facility, which has been transformed in a COVID-19 specific center. Of the 90 beds now available, 35 are isolated, intensive care beds for the most seriously ill. Those beds are outfitted with ventilators and sophisticated air filtration systems to eliminate any possibility of contamination.
The tour also included a demonstration of the strict safety guidelines medical personnel must follow for medical care. It involves the donning of full personal protective equipment, which includes a mask, gown and face shield even for the most basic of patient room visits.
MNA says it filed a request for information on equipment levels and proper procedures, but claims it has not yet received answers.
"Our members can and will do the work of protecting the community, but they need to be assured that they will have the appropriate training, protective equipment, and support from administrators that seem to be handling a global pandemic from Ivory Towers," Okorie said in a press release.
M Health Fairview responds
In response to the vote, M Health Fairview released the following statement:
At M Health Fairview, our focus is on delivering the best care for our patients while protecting the health and safety of our staff.
Our work to stand up the area’s first dedicated COVID facility at Bethesda has moved fast, by necessity, and we have been in conversations with our MNA team members throughout this process, asking them to be our partners in meeting this unprecedented challenge. We worked tirelessly to include them, bringing them in early on our planning and decisions, to respond to this unprecedented and highly fluid situation.
We share their frustration with the national shortage of PPE. We continue to work with state and federal officials to obtain necessary supplies, purchasing whatever is available, and with the support of the community for donated supplies.
We are proud of the work of every single M Health Fairview employee, including our nurses, in responding to this public health crisis.