Barton nurses hold candlelight vigil for workplace violence, COVID-19 awareness
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. — Barton nurses held a candlelight vigil on Monday night to raise awareness for the hospital’s preparedness during a potential COVID-19 outbreak.
About 25 nurses participated in the vigil. They stood at Lake Tahoe Blvd and 3rd St intersection and held candles while many cars honked as they drove by.
The nurses are specifically concerned with Barton’s policies (or lack thereof) to protect staff if there is a breakout.
“We are concerned with the amount of protective equipment available and other things,” said Barton emergency room nurse Dorothy Dean. “We have the same concerns all staff in all hospitals probably have.”
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The California Nurses Association has sent Barton Hospital a list of policies they want in place to protect the nurses.
“I see Barton is preparing but I have concerns about whether or not they will meet CNA’s requirements, which I believe are the bare minimum,” Dean said.
The demands include not implementing policies that lack scientific consensus, clear communication with RNs and healthcare workers including when there is a possible or confirmed COVID-19 case, and education and training for all RNs/healthcare works relating to the virus.
CNA is also asking Barton to require functioning negative pressure rooms, personal protective equipment for nurses and additional battery packs for personal breathing devices.
Finally, they would like full pay and benefits if they have been exposed and are put on precautionary leave.
“The hospital industry as a whole is struggling with how to respond to this crisis,” said Shawn Bartlett, labor representative for CNA. “Nurses need to be able to use their collective voices and hospitals need to hear it.”
Bartlett said Barton has made efforts to get up to speed but this was a wake up call for them and the industry as a whole.
“The health and safety of our community and staff continues to be our top priority,” said Mindi Befu, Barton Director of Public Relations in an email. “The union and our nurses know that Barton has taken extreme steps to prepare for the likely arrival of patients with COVID-19. This includes robust staff training, establishing a patient hotline, setting up an off-site clinic for testing, new strict isolation procedures for any infected cases and daily communication with the latest updates from the CDC. We are fully prepared to serve anyone in our community who may be stricken by this virus.”
The vigil was originally going to focus on workplace violence but Dean felt COVID-19 preparedness was a more pressing issue at the time. Workplace violence is still top of mind for Barton nurses.
“Workplace violence and pandemic readiness kind of go hand in hand,” Bartlett said. Nurses can’t perform to the best of their abilities if they don’t feel safe in the workplace.”
“Barton Health takes all allegations made by staff seriously and investigates each thoroughly before reaching any conclusions,” Befu said. “When an allegation is validated, appropriate action is taken which may include suspension and/or termination.”
Dean said she will continue fighting for nurse safety.
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