Understaffed, underequipped

Hospital nursing corps understaffed, short of equipment

By Lina Wu
Posted 4/8/20

Lisa has been a nurse at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital since last June. Due to the current novel coronavirus [COVID-19] crisis, her job has pushed her closer to the breaking point. …

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Understaffed, underequipped

Hospital nursing corps understaffed, short of equipment

Posted

Lisa has been a nurse at Montefiore St. Luke’s Cornwall Hospital since last June. Due to the current novel coronavirus [COVID-19] crisis, her job has pushed her closer to the breaking point.

Her job has become so chaotic that now Lisa is considering leaving the healthcare field. She is actively reconsidering working at the hospital. For her own protection, Lisa requested that her real name is not disclosed.

Lisa and other medical personnel have found themselves increasingly concerned over working conditions at Montifiore St. Luke’s Cornwall.

Prior to COVID-19, Lisa described her experience as good despite stress caused by understaffing. According to Lisa, the hospital is still understaffed. On her typical shift there are only three to four nurses.

Since the hospital is becoming an intensive care unit [ICU], there should be seven nurses, said Lisa. “Because we don’t have a lot of staff,” said Lisa last Friday over the phone. “It’s becoming a lot harder.”

Typically Lisa works four days out of the week. She serves as a patient care assistant [PCA]. A PCA is in close proximity with patients, as they do anything ranging from taking vitals to changing patients. A PCA focuses on serving the needs of patients.

She currently works on a floor that serves COVID-19 patients and non-COVID-19 patients. “It’s been insane,” said Lisa over how many patients the hospital has. “It’s been like a zoo.”

Her close proximity with patients has raised personal concerns over exposure to COVID-19. One of her coworkers went to get tested for COVID-19. Since the coworker hadn’t received her results yet, she was allegedly told to continue to come to work but in a mask.

Allegedly the hospital only has enough supplies to last the hospital staff for two weeks.

“I’ve been told that we were to reuse the supplies that we have,” said Lisa. Allegedly gowns are to be reused for every patient.

“That’s pretty much cross contamination and disgusting,” said Lisa. By reusing gowns, patients without COVID-19 have increased exposure to the disease. Personnel are also ordered to reuse masks. Medical masks are only good for 40 hours.

Initially, the hospital ordered staff to use the gowns for a week, and then discard them. Now the hospital orders all gowns to be discarded at the end of the shift. Rather than throw the gowns out, many nurses are hanging gowns up in the hallways, said Lisa.

Like many hospitals across the state, St. Luke’s doesn’t have many ventilators. Ventilators are not exclusive to patients with COVID-19.

“I want more supplies, we’re becoming the second ICU,” said Lisa. “We don’t have enough nurses and we don’t have enough aid. We don’t have enough supplies for each patient.”

As of Tuesday evening, the hospital had not responded to a request for comment.

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