MNU Calls on Province to Enhance PPE Access

Publish date: Wednesday, April 01, 2020

COVID-19

Health and safety

MNU President

Politics & Government

Put Patients First

Following numerous reports of nurses and other health care providers being forced to self-isolate due to work-related exposure, the Manitoba Nurses Union is reiterating its call for the Pallister government to allow nurses to use their professional judgement in implementing health and safety controls to stop the spread of COVID-19 in Manitoba’s Health Care system, MNU President Darlene Jackson announced today.

“The government has failed to share adequate information or acknowledge the concerns frontline nurses have repeatedly with respect to their own health and safety, and their patients,” said Jackson. “Manitobans are counting on nurses and other health care professionals (HCPs) to respond to this pandemic. In turn, nurses and HCPs need government to protect them. We need the province to follow Alberta, BC and Ontario by allowing nurses to use their clinical judgement to determine PPE access.”

Today’s announcement regarding screening and monitoring of HCPs at hospital access points is woefully inadequate, added Jackson, pointing instead to actions being taken in other provinces.

Agreements have recently been reached in Alberta and Ontario between health care unions on provincial governments requiring point-of-care risk assessments (PCRA) to be done before each suspected, presumed or confirmed COVID-19 patient. Following the PCRA, health care workers are afforded access to appropriate health and safety control measures needed, based on their own professional and clinical judgement. A similar plan is also in place in BC.

The agreements also outline plans to jointly monitor overall PPE supply and to work together to develop plans in the event of an impending shortage.

”Nurses must be allowed to use their own professional judgement to assess the risk,” said Jackson. “Right now we have mass confusion about the current amount of supplies available, and how different guidelines and protocols on testing or PPE are to be followed. Nurses aren’t able to protect themselves, and people are falling through the cracks. If nurses start to get sick in greater numbers, the whole health system begins to fall apart.”

MNU has brought these agreements forward to the Manitoba government but to date the government has refused to respond.

Details of workplace exposures of nurses are emerging rapidly. At the time of this release, MNU is  able to confirm the following: 

  • A Winnipeg ER nurse has tested positive and is resting at home. The nurse has not travelled recently, and it’s likely that she was exposed at work.
  • 2 staff at Grace have been confirmed positive and more than 14 ER staff are currently self-isolating following possible exposure. The total number of staff and the number of nurses affected, if any, is unknown at this time.
  • Following possible exposure at the Selkirk Regional Health Centre, several nurses are in isolation.
  • MNU has also received numerous additional reports from various parts of the province and is working to confirm details as soon as possible.

MNU represents over 12,000 nurses of all designations in Manitoba.
  
BACKGROUND:

Ontario PPE Agreement: http://www.health.gov.on.ca/en/pro/programs/publichealth/coronavirus/2019_covid_joint_statement.aspx
 
Alberta PPE Agreement: https://www.una.ab.ca/files/uploads/2020/3/2020-03-26_AHS_Covenant_Unions_Joint_Statement_on_PPE.pdf

 

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