DALY CITY (KPIX 5) -- Nurses at Seton Medical Center in Daly City are planning a protest at noon Thursday because they say they are critically low on personal protective equipment (PPE).
At the protest, registered nurses will demonstrate in front of the hospital in a gathering organized by the California Nurses Association. The nurses plan to wear bandanas to draw attention to the fact that there are not enough masks right now to meet the COVID-19 crisis.
"We're very, very upset and we're...desperate," said Shane Ward, a registered nurse at Seton Medical Center. "We desperately need the supplies."
A few weeks ago, Seton Medical Center was on the verge of shutdown, but the state is now leasing the hospital specifically to treat COVID-19 patients.
Ward said coronavirus patients have already begun arriving at Seton Medical Center. The hospital has 177 beds, and the nurses have been told a wave of patients is expected to come very soon.
"They need to send us the supplies," Ward said. "If I end up having to wear a bandana to work, I'll do it because I'm going to take care of my patients. But if we all get sick, who's going to take care of the patients?"
"We're on the brink of disaster," said San Mateo County Supervisor David Canepa.
A nationwide shortage of masks is a result of several major factors, including the fact that the FDA's strict regulations have delayed production of new masks for months.
Canepa said he is frustrated that he can't seem to get an answer about whether this shortage will be solved in time for the influx of patients.
"You need to make sure that the people who work there are protected and these excuses of 'it's the federal, it's the state, it's the county' … our workers are tired of the excuses," Canepa said. "What they want is they want their supplies and they want them now."
San Francisco's Public Health Director, Grant Colfax, also expressed his frustration.
"San Francisco as with the rest of the region, as with the rest of the country, has a severe, severe shortage of masks," said Colfax. "I am very concerned about our ability as a health department to supply masks ongoing for people and we are asking everyone to keep that mask that you received as long as possible. As long as possible. Until it becomes soiled. We need these masks for public health and first responder purposes," Colfax said.
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