Nurses protest outside of United Hospital in St. Paul over lack of hospital-issued scrubs

Nurses are forced to bring their scrubs home to wash them.
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Nurses protested Monday outside of United Hospital in St. Paul, requesting to be given hospital-issued scrubs instead of having to wear their own and wash them at home.

According to a St. Paul City Council resolution encouraging United Hospital administration to address the safety of health care workers, nurses at the hospital who are working with COVID-19 patients are not being provided scrubs from the hospital, forcing workers to wear their own scrubs and bring the possibly contaminated scrubs home to wash them.

The Pioneer Press says a United Hospital emergency room tech has been written up twice for wearing hospital-issued scrubs instead of their own. The tech said unless ER nurses and techs' scrubs are visibly soiled, they're not allowed to wear the hospital scrubs.

Allina Health owns United Hospital, and according to a statement from the Minnesota Nurses Association, Allina "provides scrubs for nurses at its Abbott Northwestern hospital but not Mercy, Unity or United. Yet all these hospitals are treating patients who have or may have the covid19 virus. Allina needs to protect all its workers with the safest levels of protection and policies."

Bring Me The News has reached out to Allina Health for comment, but hasn't heard back. 

In a statement to FOX 9, Allina said it has "carefully weighed and adopted policies for the use and distribution" of supplies that are limited, including scrubs for staff, noting the hospital's policies are aligned with other hospitals and follow the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and state health officials.

FOX 9 reports hospital leaders said issuing scrubs to all health care workers isn't feasible and the wait to order new scrubs is about 12 weeks.

The protest comes more than a week after the St. Paul City Council on April 22 passed a resolution "encouraging United Hospital administration to increase workplace safety for clinical staff during the impact of COVID-19" and not discipline staff who have objected to current hospital policies.

 "Given the directives to the general public to avoid the spread of COVID-19, requiring hospital staff to remove contaminants from the hospital would violate these directives and put the public at risk," the resolution states. 

The resolution noted the lack of access to hospital scrubs is part of a larger trend of health care workers not always having the proper personal protective equipment (PPE) to help keep them safe when working with patients who have the coronavirus.

It also states clinical staff who have objected to hospital policies are "currently being subjected to disciplinary proceedings that could result in termination," adding that the "impact of disciplinary action during the pandemic is shockingly aggressive and demoralizing to these health care first responders."

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