FAQ: PPE and Staying Safe on the Job

FAQ: PPE and Staying Safe on the Job

In order for healthcare workers to win the war against COVID-19 we need to stay healthy and stay on the job. Protecting ourselves is critical to winning the war and critical to keeping our families and loved ones safe.

 


What is the current situation?

The shortage of PPE needs to be addressed nationally.
The shortage of Personal Protective Equipment is a national disgrace. While there may be problems at the hospital level, the real problem is that our federal government has not acted aggressively to ensure that healthcare workers nation-wide have what we need to meet the crisis. During wartime the federal government has used its powers to produce needed materials, and we should be clear we are heading into a war.

 


What is SEIU-UHW is doing?

SEIU-UHW members are doing all we can to improve the supply of PPE in California and nation-wide.

  • We are calling on the federal government to take emergency action. They should take control of factories and re-purpose them to make masks, ventilators, and other critical supplies needed for healthcare workers to fight this pandemic. This has been done in the past to produce wartime supplies, and it can be done now. They should also distribute the entire national stockpile of PPE.
    We are demanding that the Trump administration and corporations act now. Take action by spreading the word on social media and signing our petition.
  • We are working to identify potential manufacturers. We are identifying manufacturers of masks, face shields, and other PPE. Our union has been working aggressively to find companies who will get up and running making PPE and have been connecting them with hospital system purchasers. We are working on arrangements to produce millions of masks and other PPE in the coming weeks.
  • We are working with companies to donate their stock of PPE. Through our partners in the Building Trades unions we have reached out to construction contractors and are urging them to donate masks, goggles and gloves to hospitals.

 


What can we do in our hospitals?

Prioritize the most dangerous situations.
Healthcare workers who are coming into close contact with potentially positive patients must have a mask and other PPE.  Healthcare workers who need to be in an area where droplets may have been aerosolized must have an N95 respirator.
Protect yourself by ensuring you have the appropriate PPE prior to entering a room or performing a task. You should not be forced to put yourself in a situation that puts you at risk.

Demand tight patient screening.
Hospital management must have very tight screening at all entry points. Everyone coming in needs to be screened for symptoms. If they have them, they should be masked. If they refuse to be masked, they should be isolated or kept out. This will protect the maximum number of healthcare workers and patients.

Minimize risk for those who don’t have PPE.
For those who don’t have a mask, we must be able to separate ourselves from patients and others by at least six feet. Reception, patient registration, greeters and others who interact with the public must be able to maintain this minimum safe distance or be able to perform our work behind protective partitions.
Workers who do not work with patients or maintain the facility should be allowed to work from home if at all possible. New procedures should be established for departments like medical records and billing to adopt remote processes that minimize contact with the public.

 


What is the latest CDC guidance on PPE?

The understanding of the COVID-19 is constantly changing so we should always refer to the latest CDC guidelines for proper protections.