Nursing is one of the most dangerous professions in the United States, and the working conditions at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, CA, show just how dangerous this type of work can be when nurses are not given the proper resources.
Understaffing was a problem before COVID-19, and has continued to be one during the pandemic. This has resulted in an increased risk of healthcare workers getting physically assaulted by patients and visitors. This happened to Anthony Ashley, a nurse who had one of his ribs broken by an angry visitor in November 2019. Back then the hospital took no responsibility and blamed Ashley for instigating the violence. Staffing and nurse safety are no better now.
Despite safety laws and protocols created during the pandemic to protect healthcare workers, workers at St. Rose Hospital were still risking their lives on a daily basis. “At the beginning of the pandemic, the hospital refused to let us wear a mask unless we were caring for a patient who needed droplet protections,” mentioned Breana Lastiri, an RN from the Hayward hospital. This led to 26 nurses in the hospital getting sick with COVID-19 by mid-May — a fact that could be easily tied to the lack of PPE and the hospital refusing to test the employees in its facilities.
Because of these frequent attacks and neglect, nurses at St. Rose are coming together. Backed by National Nurses United, they have collectively filed a complaint about workplace violence against the hospital.
Unfortunately, St. Rose is not an exception, as all throughout the country we have seen how hospitals have been understaffed and without basic PPE, during and even before this pandemic. However, these attacks do not need to be accepted passively, as the St. Rose nurses have shown. When nurses and healthcare workers come together and fight for the respect and safety they deserve — they have the power to win.
Featured image credit: California Nurses Association/National Nurses United