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UCSD nurses demand more face masks

Posted at 4:22 PM, Mar 27, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-27 19:22:31-04

SAN DIEGO (KGTV) -- Local nurses are rallying for more protective equipment at our hospitals. 10News spoke with healthcare workers treating patients with coronavirus who say they're terrified for their own safety.

ICU nurse, Michael Kennedy, describes what it's like on the front lines of Covid-19 at UCSD Medical Center in Hillcrest.

"As you can imagine it is kind of chaotic," said Kennedy. "We're basically having to beg for masks."

He, like many other health care workers, is raising a sobering flag, saying they do not have enough face masks to protect themselves. Kennedy says they've been instructed to wear bandanas instead.

USCD nurses held a rally to fight back against the shortage Friday morning.

"We’re already rationing supplies and we are not getting the kind of transparency we need from UCSD, from state and local officials about what we have."

It's a problem reported nationwide. The demand for personal protective equipment is soaring past supply.

Here in San Diego, 10News has covered stories of the community coming together to fix that problem by donating supplies and even sewing together homemade masks.

County Supervisor Greg Cox acknowledged the problem at a press conference Thursday.

"We had a problem with the N95 masks that were in short supply," said Cox.

Kennedy is now hoping the problem doesn't get even worse.

"If we experience a surge tomorrow, would we have the kinds of things we need or would we be wearing trash bags?

10News reached out to UCSD who provided the following statement from Michelle Brubaker, Associate Director of Communications and Media:

"Currently, UC San Diego Health has sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, including masks and respirators, to meet the needs for patients and health workers alike.

But like all health systems across the region and country, we are pursuing every avenue to diversify and increase our supply and to ensure continuing, effective levels of protection, not just in the moment but for weeks and months to come. These efforts are based upon CDC and World Health Organization guidelines regarding PPE use and are in accordance with the California Department of Public Health, San Diego County Public Health and University of California.

PPE is available to nurses for any potential COVID-19 patient. PPE for COVID-19 patients is the recommended CDC PPE practice."