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VA Nurses Rally For Better Protection Against COVID-19

The San Diego VA Medical Center in La Jolla is shown on Sept. 26, 2019.
Zoë Meyers/inewsource
The San Diego VA Medical Center in La Jolla is shown on Sept. 26, 2019.

Nurses at the San Diego VA Medical Center were part of a nationwide rally Friday, demanding better protection amid the outbreak.

Keeping socially distanced, a group of VA nurses with National Nurses United rallied at the VA Hospital in La Jolla. Marie Jamito is a nurse on the COVID-19 Unit at the La Jolla VA. She said nurses feel they have to ration n-95 masks and other personal protective equipment.

“I imagine that if it were easy for all of my colleagues to get an N-95 respirator that they’d have one by now,” she said.

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Nurses understand the risks of treating patients with COVID-19, but they aren’t getting everything they need, she said.

“We’re definitely taught and well prepared how to manage that. But supplies definitely help with reassurances because this is such a novel virus and it’s scary.”

Nurses were also concerned about whether they were being notified when they were exposed to patients who tested positive. The National Nurses Union held events at 139 hospitals around the country in 13 states, including the San Diego VA.

National Nurses United point to lack of personal protective equipment at VAs around the country.

“I’m sure we can provide the equipment that nurses need to take safe care of patients,” said Dr. Robert Smith, director of the VA San Diego Health care System.

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There were shortages early on in San Diego,but they have an adequate supply, he said.

The San Diego VA has had 34 cases of COVID-19 among patients. Three people are hospitalized and 18 staff members have tested positive.

VA Nurses Rally For Better Protection Against COVID-19
Listen to this story by Steve Walsh.