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New York Nurses Union Says Hospitals Won't Be Ready For Potential Second Wave Of Coronavirus If State Reopens Too Soon

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The New York State Nurses Association says if the state reopens soon and another wave of coronavirus cases spikes, hospitals won't be ready, so on Thursday, they unveiled their own reopening plan.

According to the union, emergency staffing and securing a safe amount of personal protective equipment is still a problem.


Gov. Andrew Cuomo says to reopen, regions must have at least 30% total hospital and ICU beds available for a potential surge, but the nurses union says that's not enough.

"A bed is nothing without a nurse to take care of that patient," said Pat Kane, executive director of the NYSNA. "They require very complicated care."

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So before any reopening, the union says every hospital needs a 90-day supply of PPE, preferably reusable N95 masks, not disposable ones. Hospitals also need universal coronavirus testing for nurses and other essential workers and more than 14 days recovery time after getting sick.

"I have members who are home for almost two months now. They don't have their voice. They're weak, they cannot come to work, and what they're being told is to go on disability," NYSNA treasurer Nancy Hagans said.

The union also wants permanent changes to visitation, asking that every patient be tested for COVID 24 hours before surgery or delivering a baby. They also want to limit the number of visitors to a room.

"Anyone who walks into the building should be treated as patient under investigation," Hagans said.

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ Health Dept. | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211

Most nurses helping from out of state are only on contract through July. Some say they will be needed much longer that, CBS2's Lisa Rozner reports.

Dr. Bruce Y. Lee is a professor at the CUNY Graduate School of Public Health. He agrees staffing for a second wave is crucial.

"Health care professionals aren't robots, so you can't just plug them and say OK, turn you on, turn you off," he said.

The union is calling for federal funding and coordinated purchasing pools for equipment to end bidding wars between hospitals.

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