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Albany Med nurses plan Saturday speak-out to demand more protective gear - Times Union

  • 2 May 2020

Photo of Bethany Bump
Bethany Bump

A view of Albany Medical Center on Monday, March 23, 2020, in Albany, N.Y. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)
1of13A view of Albany Medical Center on Monday, March 23, 2020, in Albany, N.Y. (Paul Buckowski/Times Union)Paul Buckowski/Albany Times Union
Emergency medical service dispatch centers are advised to question callers to determine whether a person in a medical emergency has signs of a coronavirus infection. However, dispatchers' first priority is still to instruct callers on immediate lie-saving interventions, such as CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.
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Emergency medical service dispatch centers are advised to question callers to determine whether a person in a medical emergency has signs of a coronavirus infection. However, dispatchers’ first priority is still to instruct callers on immediate lie-saving interventions, such as CPR or the Heimlich maneuver.

Jason Fochtman, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer
Information from the caller about a person who might pose a COVID-19 risk is to be communicated to emergency responders before they arrive so they can use personal protective equipment (PPE).
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Information from the caller about a person who might pose a COVID-19 risk is to be communicated to emergency responders before they arrive so they can use personal protective equipment (PPE).

John Badman | The Telegraph
If a patient needs to be taken to a health care facility, EMS clinicians are to notify the staff at the facility of whether the patient has an exposure history and signs of COVID-19.
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If a patient needs to be taken to a health care facility, EMS clinicians are to notify the staff at the facility of whether the patient has an exposure history and signs of COVID-19.

Genevieve Reilly / Hearst Connecticut Media
The patient is to be kept separate from other people as much as possible. Family members and other contacts are not to be allowed to ride in the transport vehicle if possible, but if they do ride along they have to wear facemasks.
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The patient is to be kept separate from other people as much as possible. Family members and other contacts are not to be allowed to ride in the transport vehicle if possible, but if they do ride along they have to wear facemasks.

Lori Van Buren/Albany Times Union
Measures to separately ventilate the patient and driver compartments of the vehicle are advised, by closing doors and windows to seal the compartments off from each other. If the compartments can't be ventilated separately, the air vents in the driver area should be opened and the rear exhaust fans turned up to their highest setting.
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Measures to separately ventilate the patient and driver compartments of the vehicle are advised, by closing doors and windows to seal the compartments off from each other. If the compartments can’t be ventilated separately, the air vents in the driver area should be opened and the rear exhaust fans turned up to their highest setting.

Ted S. Warren/AP
Emergency responders are directed to leave open the rear doors of the transport vehicle so infectious particles can be vented out. The CDC says adequate ventilation should occur in the time it takes to bring the patient to the receiving facility and complete documentation on the emergency response.
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Emergency responders are directed to leave open the rear doors of the transport vehicle so infectious particles can be vented out. The CDC says adequate ventilation should occur in the time it takes to bring the patient to the receiving facility and complete documentation on the emergency response.

Ted S. Warren/AP
Responders are told to wear gowns, gloves, goggles and a facemask or face shield while cleaning the vehicle to protect against splashes or sprays. The stretcher, rails, control panels, floors, walls, work surfaces of the vehicle are to be cleansed with EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectants. Re-usable equipment is also to be cleansed.
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Responders are told to wear gowns, gloves, goggles and a facemask or face shield while cleaning the vehicle to protect against splashes or sprays. The stretcher, rails, control panels, floors, walls, work surfaces of the vehicle are to be cleansed with EPA-registered hospital-grade disinfectants. Re-usable equipment is also to be cleansed.

DAVE ZAJAC/AP
State and local public health authorities are to be notified about patients so follow-up monitoring can take place.
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State and local public health authorities are to be notified about patients so follow-up monitoring can take place.

Jerry Lara /Staff photographer
EMS agencies are supposed to have policies in place to assess COVID-19 exposure risk and manage EMS personnel who may have been exposed, including monitoring them or excluding them from work.
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EMS agencies are supposed to have policies in place to assess COVID-19 exposure risk and manage EMS personnel who may have been exposed, including monitoring them or excluding them from work.

John Minchillo/AP
The CDC is also directing EMS agencies to develop flexible sick-leave policies for personnel that aren't punitive. All personnel are to be made aware of those sick-leave policies.
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The CDC is also directing EMS agencies to develop flexible sick-leave policies for personnel that aren’t punitive. All personnel are to be made aware of those sick-leave policies.

EMS personnel are supposed to receive training in how to use personal protective equipment and they're to be medically cleared, trained and fit-tested for a respiratory protection device such as an N95 mask.
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EMS personnel are supposed to receive training in how to use personal protective equipment and they’re to be medically cleared, trained and fit-tested for a respiratory protection device such as an N95 mask.

Lynne Sladky/AP
EMS units should be adequately supplied with personal protective equipment and have access to hospital-grade disinfectants to clean up their vehicles.
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EMS units should be adequately supplied with personal protective equipment and have access to hospital-grade disinfectants to clean up their vehicles.

Nathan Woodside | The Telegraph

ALBANY — Nurses at Albany Medical Center will hold a speak-out event early Saturday morning in front of the hospital to demand greater access to personal protective equipment.

Nurses say the hospital administration has been rationing PPE and limiting access to N-95 respirators that help to prevent airborne infection. Despite receiving "generous" donations of PPE from political and community supporters earlier in the week, they contend the hospital has put even more restrictions on access to supplies.

Healthcare workers at a number of Capital Region hospitals have spoken out about the rationing of PPE as the novel coronavirus continues to spread worldwide. They've told the Times Union they fear a lack of "adequate" protective equipment puts them, their patients and their families at risk.

Hospitals have responded by insisting they have adequate supplies, while also noting their attempts to conserve equipment for as long as is safely possible. At Albany Med, management has begun disinfecting N-95 masks using ultraviolet light and hydrogen peroxide gas, which they say enables their re-use.

"We are disinfecting the N95 masks because we want our supply to last as long as possible," Fred Venditti, hospital general director, said Friday in the hospital's daily YouTube update. "We don’t know how long this is going to go on and we’re just being prudent. We want to make sure two weeks, three weeks, six weeks down the road we have enough of those masks."

At least 67 Albany Med employees have tested positive for COVID-19 since the outbreak began, though administrators say that two-thirds of them contracted the novel coronavirus while off the job. However, it is unclear how administrators know this.

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The New York State Nurses Association is organizing the Saturday event at Albany Med, scheduled for 8 a.m. in front of the pillars. Nurses will practice social distancing at the event, the union said. Nurses over 60 with underlying health conditions or who are pregnant are advised not to participate.

The union has been organizing similar speak-outs in recent weeks at downstate hospitals, where the majority of New York's COVID-19 patients are being treated.

Nurses are calling on the federal government to fully utilize the Defense Production Act, which would force manufacturers to increase production of PPE.


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