‘Tension in our chests’: Minnesota nurses on frontlines of COVID-19 say more equipment needed

The Minnesota Nurses Association (MNA) released a survey Wednesday afternoon that found less than 5% of nurses who were questioned felt hospitals were prepared for the COVID-19 pandemic.

One-thousand nurses took part in the survey, according to MNA, from across the state that also raised concerns about protective equipment.

"I can say fear across the board,” said Kelley Anaas, a Twin Cities area hospital nurse about COVID-19. “We’re all feeling this underlying tension in our chests."

Anaas wears special gear including an N95 respirator mask when she deals with COVID-19 patients.

MNA said their survey found that the N95 mask is the item most-needed, followed by powered air-purifying respirators (PAPR) and facemasks in Minnesota hospitals.

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The N95 respirator mask issue is being felt at health care centers across America.

The Department of Defense announced Wednesday at a news conference with White House officials that they were giving one million masks from their reserves to help with supplies.

"Right now we’re in an unprecedented global pandemic," said Dr. Rahul Koranne, President of the Minnesota Hospital Association. “Which is going to require all of us to work together in lockstep.”

The Minnesota Hospital Association said they are working with MDH officials to obtain additional COVID-19 supplies.

“The most important question, when this equipment will actually show up physically in Minnesota,” Koranne said. “To be distributed to hospitals, health care systems so we can do what we are doing to keep our patients safe.”

Koranne adds, by not going into the health care centers looking for tests before speaking with a doctor or healthcare provider is a way to limit exposure to those that work at the center.

“We have a new threat and it’s the nurses and health care workers that are marching into battle," said Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association.

Turner said none of her member nurses have tested positive for COVID-19, also adding testing kits are in limited supply.

The photo above shows nurse Kelley Anaas in protective gear that is worn when serving patients with COVID-19. Photo courtesy of Eric Chaloux/KSTP.

KSTP COVID-19 Pandemic coverage