Coronavirus News: New York City nurses demand personal protection equipment

NORWOOD, Bronx (WABC) -- There's a growing concern among nurses and doctors in New York City that they'll run out of personal protection equipment (PPE) and supplies.

A dozen health care workers spoke out Thursday near Montefiore Medical Center in the Bronx about their concerns.

"We're running out of PPE, we're running out of pain medication, we're running out of sedatives," third-year resident physician Laura Ucik said.

State leaders say hundreds of thousands of personal protection masks and supplies have been shipped to New York, but some health care workers say their emergency rooms haven't benefited yet.

"If front line care givers are sick, are dying, there won't be anyone left to take care of the public," said Judy Sheridan-Gonzalez, ER nurse and president of the New York State Nurses Association.

Some health care workers are saying they're being told to reuse not only critical N95 masks but every day supplies.

"I was given one disposable gown to use all day to take care of COVID-19 patients," Ucik said. "And I would hang it up on an IV pole in between patients and put my single N95 mask into a brown paper bag."

It's a problem at hospitals throughout the area.

The New York City Health Department recently sent an alert to hospitals, telling them to "conserve all personal protective equipment now."

It isn't a request, and the language in the alert states health care facilities must immediately implement these measures.

"It puts me at risk, it puts you at risk, everyone in the health care building at risk," nurse Victoria Lanquah said.

The alert also states "recommended measures to conserve PPE are different than how we use this equipment during non-pandemic times."

"If front line care givers are sick, are dying there won't be anyone left to take care of the public," Sheridan-Gonzalez said.

Meanwhile, hospitals are running out of space. In the emergency room at Mount Sinai in Queens, patients are on hospital beds in hallways.

There aren't enough beds for COVID-19 patients, and some are being sent to other hospitals in the network.


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