Minnesota Nurses Association president makes urgent call for more personal protective equipment for nurses

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Minnesota nurses are voicing their concerns about a lack of personal protective equipment (PPE). This, after Gov. Tim Walz announced Wednesday that he'll loosen some restrictions and let the 'stay at home' order expire on Monday.

Minnesota nurses shared their concerns Thursday afternoon about the looser restrictions ahead, explaining what they want and why.

Mary Turner, president of the Minnesota Nurses Association, said, through tears: "I dread the day, I dread the day, that I have you all in front of me and I have to announce the first MNA nurse or the first nurse in Minnesota that has died because of COVID, because he or she was not protected, on the front line the way they're supposed to be."

Turner said nurses in various hospitals across the state are being asked to reuse their N95 masks and their isolation gowns.

"This has the nurses totally irate," Turner said.

She added that it's not safe, and they need more. She described the realities of how much personal protective equipment health care workers must use.

"When they're in the [Intensive Care Unit] and they, respiratory-wise, get really critical, and they have to be turned onto their stomach to help them breath better, and they're intubated, it takes seven people to turn that person over — seven people, wearing gowns, shields, masks and gloves — for one moment in time, ok, so you just think about that for a second, and then you realize just how fast we are going through our PPE."

Turner said the lack of PPE has nurses' stress levels skyrocketing.

"There are just too many 'ifs,' and the biggest if is there's not enough PPE. I don't care what anyone says, there is not enough!" said added.

Turner is also concerned that more businesses reopening soon means more people will use personal protective equipment, creating even more demand.

"We need to make PPE, because as we go back and things start to open up, everybody else is going to be wanting personal protective equipment too, you know, it's not just going to be us," Turner said.

She said the MNA wants a federal solution and the Defense Production Act to be enacted for PPE for nurses.

"Until they do that, we are not going to have enough, and you know who gets the risk, is the front-line worker," she said.

Members of the Minnesota Nurses Association who are off-the-clock are slated to march, socially-distanced from United Hospital, to the state Capitol, Wednesday to demand more PPE to protect the state's nurses.

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