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Las Vegas nurses demand safer working conditions

Updated January 13, 2022 - 7:47 pm

Nurses at MountainView Hospital said Thursday that on any given day more than a third of their staff is out sick with COVID-19.

In solidarity with a national movement, several Las Vegas nurses with the National Nurses United union spoke out about the lack of personal protective equipment and the overworked, understaffed conditions at MountainView Hospital, 3100 N. Tenaya Way.

“I worked two nights in a row in the ICU with no PPE gowns,” Brenda Saravia, a nurse at the hospital and a union representative said, citing a recent shift. “Last week we were rationing BiPAP machines.”

Savaria said nurses aren’t being offered any incentives to work overtime, which she said might help with some of the staffing shortages. Several other nurses cited the “moral burnout” they’re feeling.

“If I have three patients that are dying and everyone else has three patients that are dying, how are we supposed to help each other?” asked Laura Eaton. “We’re surrounded by all these challenges and it’s so hard to watch all these people suffering and it feels like there’s nothing we can do.”

In a statement to the Review-Journal on Thursday the company denied claims that there was a shortage of ventilators and PPE and said it has offered pandemic pay and masking requirements ahead of the national standard to do so. The company said it has provided incentive pay and annual raises throughout the pandemic.

“Every member of the organization has stepped forward to support patient care over the past two years of the pandemic. No one cares more for our colleagues than we do,” the company wrote in the statement. “Our health care system, HCA Healthcare, has invested in a personal protective equipment manufacturing company to create a direct supply line of vital safety supplies to protect its workers.”

The union, which represents 960 nurses at MountainView Hospital, wrote in a statement this week that many nurses across the nation are frustrated with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s weakened COVID isolation guidelines and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s intention to withdraw critical COVID protections for health care workers amid the latest omicron surge.

“The United States is not experiencing a ‘nursing shortage’ — only a shortage of nurses willing to risk their licenses or the safety of their patients by working under the unsafe conditions imposed on them by profit-driven employers,” the release said.

The nurses approved a new union contract in September that promised to provide the same level of protection, such as single-use PPE when encountering patients suspected of being infected with COVID-19, not just when a case has been confirmed. Nurses were given free access to coronavirus testing after exposure and promised pay increases for working weekends or when critical additional staffing is needed.

Contact Sabrina Schnur at sschnur@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0278. Follow @sabrina_schnur on Twitter.

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