MNA: Trinity Health is failing to protect staff at local hospitals during coronavirus crisis

Hampden County
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SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – The Massachusetts Nursing Association on Thursday, accused Trinity Health of failing to protect its healthcare staff at Mercy Medical Center and Providence Behavioral Health Hospital during the fight against coronavirus. 

According to MNA, “the latest blow to nurses and healthcare workers on the front lines came this week when Trinity Health told staff it would no longer provide N95 masks to those caring for patients in an intermediate care unit that has had positive and suspected COVID-19 patients.” 

MNA said the multiple failures by the national hospital chain includes the following:

  • Lack of protective equipment
  • Inconsistent guidance on outside PPE
  • Cancellations during a crisis
  • Lack of support for front line staff
  • Closures of Essential Services

On Friday, 22News reached out to Trinity Health, and spokeswoman, Mary K. Orr, said safety is a core value for Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates and Trinity Health Of New England, adding that, the health system is deeply committed to following CDC guidelines and providing the appropriate level of personal protective equipment for all of its colleagues.

According to CDC guidelines, N95 respirators are only be used during an aerosol-generating procedure on a positive or suspected COVID-19 patient and can be reused if they are properly stored and not soiled.  As we recognize this is an essential part of patient care amidst this pandemic, multiple resources regarding appropriate PPE use are available to our colleagues, including ongoing individual education.

Additionally, because colleague safety is our top priority, plans are underway for universal masking for patient-facing colleagues, beginning tomorrow throughout Trinity Health Od New England. 

We continue to work daily with suppliers worldwide and with government agencies to secure additional PPE as we navigate a global supply challenge. To be good stewards of our resources, and in an effort to mitigate future PPE shortages, we are employing well-established conservation strategies consistent with the CDC guidelines.

Mary K. Orr, Communications and Media Specialist, Mercy Medical Center

Orr also responded to the other issues MNA addressed in their statement. The answers she provided 22News are below:

Inconsistent guidance on outside PPE: Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates have been overwhelmed by requests from businesses and individuals in the community who want to help.  We are blessed to have the community behind us and we deeply appreciate their generosity.  We are currently accepting donations for new and unopened PPE, including medical and industrial-grade N95 respirators, surgical/procedural masks, safety goggles, and face shields, isolation gowns, and surgical gloves.

Cancellations during a crisis: We are in the midst of a global health crisis and all of us are doing things outside of our normal, day-to-day work.  We have encouraged and are engaging with our nurses and all colleagues, including members of the medical staff, to be cross-trained and redeployed to the areas the community will need for us to provide care.  In all cases, we are ensuring that redeployed colleagues receive the proper training and oversight to ensure we are providing safe patient care. 

Lack of s support for front line staff: Trinity Health, the parent company of Mercy Medical Center and its affiliates, has developed generous policies around Paid Time Off (PTO), including a recently announced additional one week of emergency reserve PTO.  Colleagues who are placed in quarantine by Occupational Health are paid for up to 14 days do not need to use their PTO. 

We remain committed to working with our nurses and their representatives during these unknown and uncertain times.  It has been difficult for everyone. Our patients unite us in everything we do and we are steadfast in that commitment.

Closures of Essential Services: The decision to discontinue inpatient psychiatric services at Providence Hospital was made because of critical psychiatric provider shortage that will prevent our future ability to provide safe, quality care to our patients.  During the COVID-19 pandemic, this critical shortage has not changed and therefore, these services will be discontinued on June 30, 2020.

Trinity Health operates 92 hospitals and 106 continuing care facilities in 22 states.

22News will continue to follow this story and bring you the latest when more details develop.

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