For the past couple of weeks, nurses at Kaiser Hospital have been caring for patients that came from the Grand Princess cruise ship and tested positive for coronavirus. Although there was time for the hospital to prepare before the ship docked, management implemented a training scheme only after the first confirmed cases of patients with Covid-19 arrived.

The training was on the procedure developed to clean single-use equipment so that it can be used for multiple patients throughout a shift. Nurses and medical professionals are stuck between a rock and a hard place. CDC states that these downgraded procedures were developed out of necessity since supplies are so low, but that doesn’t mean this protocol is safe or reduces the risk of transmission.

It’s not the fault of medical staff that there aren’t enough Covid-19 tests or personal protective equipment (PPE) to go around. And there’s more than enough resources which the hospital could have used to get ready for this emergency. One change that could have been implemented immediately is changing the nurse-patient ratio from 1:3 down to 1:1. Every other day of the year it’s obvious that understaffing is a dangerous practice, but in a time like this it’s downright deadly.

Our emergency preparedness plans should be as robust as Kaiser’s record-breaking profits last year, a whopping $7.4 billion! These patients desperately need the care that well-trained medical professionals can provide in a crisis, but that care shouldn’t come at a cost of safety.

Featured image credit: Jane Tyska/Bay Area News Group