SANTA MONICA, Calif. – Nurses and their allies gathered at St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica on Friday March 17 for what they call the solidarity event in support of 10 colleagues who were suspended after refusing to treat coronavirus patients without N95 respirator masks.
Allison Mayol was one of the 10 nurses who was suspended.
“We have dedicated our lives to serving people to healing people. And we trusted our employer to take care of us and they have failed to do that in it. It hurts a lot,” Mayol said.
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Mayol has worked at St. John’s for one year, and has been exclusively taking care of COVID-19 patients for the past few weeks. She and many other nurses on her floor had been given basic surgical mask to wear while working and said they didn't question it because they trusted the hospital's protocol.
But that changed on April 9, when Mayol found out a nurse tested positive for COVID-19 on her floor. She says five doctors came to nurses that day and said ‘I would not go into a room with a Covid patient without an N95 mask.’
Mayol said “The nurses at that point said (to management), 'I don't feel safe. I don't feel safe going into those rooms. I want to go in those rooms and I will absolutely, absolutely, absolutely do it... if I have an N95 mask.'”
The next day Mayol and nine other nurses were subsequently suspended, according to the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United.
An April 16 media statement from Providence St. John’s said:
“Every one of our nurses caring for COVID-19 positive patients and patients under investigation (PUIs), was provided appropriate PPE per CDC, WHO and state guidelines. These same guidelines are followed by most hospitals across the United States.”
The statement also said:
“We are pleased that within the last week we received an increase in inventory and the FDA granted authorization to reprocess N95 masks enabling us to provide them to all caregivers treating COVID-19 patients.”
The 10 nurses are currently on paid leave and eager to return to work pending an investigation by the hospital’s human resources.
“I really want to be a nurse and I want to be a good one. And I just have to keep thinking about how many I can help in the future as long as I stay healthy and alive right now,” Mayol said.
Solidarity in the fight to stay alive is something she says everyone should want for the nurses and for themselves.