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Coronavirus: Nurses Protest Outside Bronx Hospital About Lack Of Supplies, Orders To Reuse Protective Gear

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) - Nurses at Jacobi Medical Center held a press conference Saturday morning to protest about lack of enough medical supplies and sudden revisions to safety guidelines about reusing protective gear in treating COVID-19 coronavirus patients.

They say the hospital is putting their lives at risk by asking them to reuse their personal protective equipment, reports CBS2's Kiran Dhillon.

Nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus crisis at NYC Health + Hospitals/Jacobi Medical Center in the Bronx are fed up.

They say after the CDC changed its guidelines and they were told by management to reuse their protective gear, including N95 masks for one use.

It's just one of many stories coming to light from healthcare workers across the Tri-State Area.

MORE: CDC Strategies to Optimize the Supply of PPE and Equipment

"Prior to coronavirus, we were they were one-time use, you use them for a patient and they went in the garbage," said one nurse. "Now all of a sudden the CDC is saying that it's fine for us to reuse them and these choices are being made not based on science, they're being made based on need."

CORONAVIRUS: NY Health Dept. | NY Call 1-(888)-364-3065 | NYC Health Dept. | NYC Call 311, Text COVID to 692692 | NJ COVID-19 Info Hub | NJ Call 1-(800)-222-1222 or 211, Text NJCOVID to 898211 | CT Health Dept. | CT Call 211 | Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Images taken inside Holy Name Medical Center in Teaneck, N.J., give an inside look at how they're battling the coronavirus. Doctors and nurses suited up in some of these pictures taken by Jeff Rhode, show the faces and sometimes just the eyes of the people fighting the outbreak head-on. Many healthcare workers in New Jersey are now sick themselves.

Friday, Gov. Phil Murphy made a plea for help for volunteers.

"If you have medical experience or wish to pitch in to help us get through this emergency, please sign up," he said.

"What's even more alarming is knowing how many of my colleagues are home sick," said Dr. Stavros Christoudias, a general surgeon who works at several hospitals including Holy Name.

He says New Jersey doctors are of particular concern. According to the Association of American Medical Colleges, New Jersey ranks third for active physicians aged 60 or older.

"What horrifies me about our doctor workforce is that we're the oldest," he said. "By a lot, not a little bit, by a lot. The doctors who are going to work are very vulnerable."

As someone who performs emergency surgeries, he has another concern. He's worried about people who stay home to avoid the ER.

"What about the guy who never made it in, suffered at home with an appendix for five days," said Christoudias. "You know that can be fatal."


Other medical caregivers are expressing their concerns on social media. Dr. David Zodda, an emergency room doctor at Hackensack University Medical Center, related about treating a coworker who just tested positive for COVID-19.

"I intubated my colleague today, a young, healthy ER doc like me," posted Zodda. "This is what I learned: As scared as I was, I knew that I owed it to my colleague to be calm, focused, and collected. We've trained for this and with a little courage and vulnerability, we can meet any challenge. This virus does not discriminate with regards to age or health status. But it does have an affinity for us. Health care workers represent more than 20% of all #COVID19 cases."

Over in New York, construction on the four temporary hospitals at the Javits Center is now complete. Gov. Andrew Cuomo toured it on Friday. He's also asking for the authorization from the president to construct for more temporary hospitals.

Beyond the 1.8 million square feet inside Manhattan's Javits Center, the governor is looking at these locations:

On Saturday morning, NYC Health + Hospitals issued a statement on the nurses' demonstration at Jacobi:

"Nurses are the heart of NYC Health + Hospitals and their safety during our COVID-19 response is a top priority. We currently have the supplies needed for all of our staff, but are fully cognizant that there is a nationwide shortage of supplies. Because of the national picture, we have taken serious measures to conserve what we do have. However, every health care worker in our system who needs PPE is able to receive what they need. We continue to advocate to local, state and federal agencies for additional personal protective equipment."

* Every hospital in NYC is working together with the city of New York to insure every patient and all staff receive the care and personal protection needed.
* We are following the guidelines set forth by the CDC, as well as the NYC DOHMH and the NYS DOH.
* NYC Health + Hospitals works as one system and leverages and allocates resources across facilities as necessary.
* Like all health systems across the country, we have PPE conservation efforts in place to ensure we continue to have the supplies our staff need, and are working to secure more through vendors and donations.
* Each healthcare worker has the ability to use or reuse any equipment based on their own assessment of appropriateness.​

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