COSTA MESA (CBSLA) — With local hospitals overwhelmed by the latest COVID-19 surge, nurses are reaching their breaking point.
"This is a national disaster," a veteran emergency room nurse who works in Orange County told CBSLA Tuesday. "Once the healthcare falls, wiped out, there's no coming back."
The nurse, who did not want his name shared, said he wants to let the public know what it has been like in area hospitals.
"I grew up in a war-torn place, and this is the most scared [I've been] in my life and in my career," he said.
Since the latest surge began, the nurse said terrified healthcare workers have been working double-time with no breaks and not enough life-saving personal protective equipment.
"Those nurses that they have now? They're gonna start dying," he said. "We already have two deaths in those hospitals that we work at, and there's more [that are] gonna die."
For the first time in his career, he will join dozens of fellow nurses on the picket line Wednesday at 6 a.m., desperate to send a message that the new ER nurse-to-patient ratio issued by the California Department of Public Health will cost lives.
"You have an 11, 12-bed emergency room that has 30 patients, 40 patients, and people expiring in the middle of the hallway with nurses running around," he said. "They're trying to help, and they cannot catch up. The number's 6-to-1. Do you think one nurse can serve six people who are saying, 'I cannot breathe?'"
As nurses prepare for the worst of the surge, they hope picketing will send the message to Gov. Gavin Newsom that they are in desperate need of relief in the form of additional healthcare workers.
"This is gonna get worse," the nurse said. "If you have 100 nurses now, in a month, you're gonna have 60. After that, you're not gonna have none."
The nurses will picket Wednesday from 6-8:30 a.m. at the following Orange County Hospitals:
- Chapman Global Medical Center, 2601 Chapman Ave., Orange
- Anaheim Global Medical Center, 1025 S. Anaheim Blvd., Anaheim
- South Coast Global Medical Center, 2701 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana
- West Anaheim Medical Center, 3033 W. Orange Ave., Anaheim
A spokesperson for the California Nurses Association said Orange County was ground zero for the first picketers, though she said she expects nurses across the state to soon follow.
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