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Healthcare workers demanding better protection against COVID-19 while on the job

'All they want is to have what they need to take care of themselves so that they don't get sick'
Posted at 9:48 PM, Jun 26, 2020

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. — Some healthcare workers in Palm Beach County are demanding better protection against COVID-19 while on the job.

Palm Beach County Commissioner Mack Bernard was among those gathered outside of Palm West Hospital Friday.

The group delivered a letter to management outlining their requests.

The action is part of a national effort by caregivers employed by HCA Healthcare, a Palms West parent company.

RELATED: Multiple Palm Beach County hospitals out of adult ICU beds, according to state data

Among workers' list of demands are proper PPE, safe staffing levels, and pandemic pay if they get sick on the job.

"All they want is to have what they need to take care of themselves so that they don't get sick. We have family members that are sick, is it because of the fact that their wife, husband work at the hospital? It's a possibility."

HCA Healthcare sent WPTV the following statement:

Throughout the pandemic, we have been doing everything within our power to protect our colleagues and patient care teams, ensuring they are equipped to provide safe, effective care to our patients by following or exceeding CDC protocols. We have provided appropriate PPE, including a universal masking policy requiring all staff in all areas to wear masks, including N95s, in line with CDC guidance. While we currently have adequate supplies of PPE, we continue to provide safeguards that are consistent with CDC guidelines and help ensure the protection of our colleagues, not only today, but into the future as the pandemic evolves. The SEIU fails to recognize the reality all hospitals nationwide are facing, that this pandemic has strained the worldwide supply of personal protective equipment (PPE), including masks, face shields, and gowns. This is especially surprising since the SEIU itself fell victim to an alleged N95 manufacturing scam that is now part of a U.S. Justice Department investigation. A link to that story can be found here: []

As COVID-19 cases rise in East Florida, Palms West Hospital is well-prepared for a potential surge in patients. We currently have the bed capacity, staffing, and supplies and equipment needed to safely treat both suspected COVID-19 patients and other Florida residents requiring emergency and non-emergency medical care. As the situation evolves, we continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve.

Similar to other healthcare providers, the spread of COVID-19 has had a tremendous impact on Palms West Hospital, simultaneously reducing revenues and increasing expenses. The CARES Act funding HCA Healthcare hospitals have received to date represents only a portion of our anticipated lost revenue and increased expenses resulting from the pandemic. To provide even more perspective, HCA Healthcare’s 180 U.S. hospitals provide about 5 percent of all inpatient hospital services in the country while we have received less than 2 percent of the CARES Act provider relief funds distributed to date. For a more detailed understanding of the CARES Act and the funding relief to our hospitals, please see a recent letter from HCA Healthcare’s CFO and FAQ: []