Nurses Say COVID-19 Guidelines, Poor Communication Increase Risk


Nurses in front of UCSF Parnassus hospital. Photo by Laura Wenus // Public Press

Nurses around the country gathered outside hospitals today to call for a more decisive response to the coronavirus outbreak that now has more than a thousand confirmed cases and 32 deaths nationwide. In San Francisco, 14 cases have been confirmed, with zero deaths. But nurses today criticized how the CDC and individual hospitals are handling the outbreak.

The California Nurses Association, National Nurses Organizing Committee and National Nurses United issued a statement calling the CDC’s guidelines “weakened” and called employer responses “ineffective.” “Civic” spoke with one registered nurse at UCSF, outside the Parnassus campus, who said nurses felt left out of the conversation about responding to COVID-19.

UCSF issued a statement in response to the nurses’ rallies. It reads, in part:

UCSF Health specializes in the care of patients with complex conditions and has a long history of providing care for patients with infectious diseases, including SARS, MERS and HIV/AIDS. We do not, as a matter of course, notify staff when we receive patients with an infectious disease if they are not involved in the patient’s care. However, all staff who are involved in caring for patients with COVID-19 are properly trained and are fully informed of their patients’ illness and conditions. We have extensive protocols and procedures in place for protecting our care providers, staff and other patients, based on the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control and PRevention, California Department of Public Health, and San Francisco Department of Public Health.

UCSF also says its protocols include setting up a separate triage system for patients who show up to the hospital with respiratory illnesses and providing masks for patients with those symptoms. Hospitalized patients are being isolated, and UCSF has converted a hospital floor to provide ventilation specifically designed to limit the spread of airborne infections.

The CDC did not respond to a request for comment by press time.

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A segment from our radio show, “Civic.” Listen daily at 8 a.m. and 6 p.m. on 102.5 FM in San Francisco.