Northeast Nurses Association Position Statement on a COVID-19 Response to Protect Patients and Staff

The Northeast Nurses Association (NENA) is committed to supporting nurses and other healthcare workers who are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. We are working with our affiliated unions in Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New York, and Pennsylvania to fight for proper protection for frontline care providers, and we’re continuing to advocate for swift action from our state and federal governments. NENA is monitoring the current situation and will relay information to frontline care providers as this public health crisis evolves.

How Did We Get Here?

As the COVID-19 pandemic hits hospitals across the Northeast, we are witnessing the dramatic flaws of a profit-driven healthcare system. For years, many hospitals have prioritized their bottom line over patient safety, cutting back on essential staff and equipment. These facilities are now ill-equipped to handle the outbreak of a highly contagious virus, putting patients, staff, and the general public at risk. We need to take swift action to put patient safety over profit, taking leadership from the nurses and other healthcare workers who are the backbone of our healthcare system.

Now more than ever, we must do everything we can to protect our healthcare providers. Every time a nurse gets sick, hospitals’ capacity to treat the disease decreases. We cannot stop the spread of COVID-19 unless we keep nurses safe.

Checklist For Hospitals

All hospitals must take action now to protect patients and staff from the spread of COVID-19. This checklist is based on current CDC recommendations. Hospitals must:

  • Provide full personal protective equipment (PPE) for staff dealing with suspected or positive COVID-19 patients (N95 masks or PAPRs, face shields or goggles, gowns, and gloves).

  • Provide tent/outdoor triage for all patients with symptoms of respiratory infection. Mask all patients with signs of respiratory infection immediately.

  • Separate patients with symptoms of respiratory infection from other patients/staff. Designate separate COVID-19 units and staff them appropriately.

  • Limit access to hospital. Triage by phone as much as possible and only admit patients who really need it. Limit non-essential staff, volunteers, and visitors. Cancel elective procedures.

  • Provide adequate staff to meet additional requirements of testing, triage, and treatment.

  • Incentivize staff with symptoms of or exposure to COVID-19 to stay home. Provide housing to staff who can’t safely quarantine at home.

How Prepared is Your Facility?

Fill out my online form.

Demanding Action from Our Elected Officials

In order to protect healthcare workers, we need an immediate mobilization of domestic manufacturing of PPE and ventilators. Any and all efforts at the state and national level should be made to increase production. To protect the general public, NENA supports continuing life-saving social distancing protocols.

Ongoing Support from NENA

Any nurse that feels they are at risk, or are not provided the resources to offer the highest level of care, should reach out to NENA staff immediately at info@nenurses.org.

Recommendations for Donning and Doffing PPE

PPE Request

If you are a Nurse, Tech, or Respiratory Therapist in the Northeastern United States, fill out the form below to request  KN95 masks for yourself and co-workers in your department.  We will contact you and prioritize speedy distribution of masks based on the needs of those who contact us.

Due to the national shortage of N95s, NENA has purchased bulk orders of KN95 masks that have met FDA and NIOSH approvals. These masks were additionally reviewed  by a Certified Industrial Hygienist.

The utilization of the KN95 masks are only meant for use by healthcare staff if, and when, their employer fails to provide them with the required N95 respirators.  It is your right to protect yourself, by bringing in your own PPE.  If employers, as well as the state and national government, had done their jobs ensuring an adequate supply of personal protective equipment, we would not need to utilize this product.  However, in a situation where it is a decision between KN95 or a surgical mask, the KN95 is a safer option.

Your Name (required)

Your Email (required)

Phone (required)

Name and Location of the Healthcare Facility You Work

Job Title (required)

Department (required)

Please Briefly Describe availability of PPE in Your Work Area and What Your Needs Are