BOSTON (WHDH) - As COVID-19 cases climb and swamp local hospitals, nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital say their health and safety are being put at risk.
“There are so many things that are giving us anxiety right now,” said registered nurse Sarah Bessuille.
Bessuille said the hospital has been allowing patients up to two visitors a day and requires them to wear masks, but it is up to the nurses to enforce mask-wearing.
“When the patient’s family or friends and visitors do come up, they are often not wearing their masks in the rooms,” she explained.
A spokesperson for the hospital said visitors will be limited to one per day starting on Wednesday. In the last month, visitor restrictions have gone into effect at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center, Boston Medical Center, Tufts Medical Center and South Shore Hospital.
The hospital spokesperson said they have increased testing capacity by 44 percent in the last three weeks, but Bessuille said even that is not enough for nurses who are constantly treating infected patients.
“We’ve asked the hospital to open up more testing for at least the direct caregivers, the people who have to come within six feet of patients,” Bessuille said, “and all we’ve been told is there are no plans to open more testing for us.”
The Massachusetts Nurses Association said nearly 700 Brigham employees have tested positive for COVID-19 this week alone.
Bessuille said that the nurses who are still healthy are worried they will not have enough masks to prevent infection.
“When you do have the N95s on the floor, it’s a constant battle trying to get enough of them. You’re constantly calling materials management saying, ‘We need another box of this, we need another box of that,'” Bessuille said.
In a statement, Brigham and Women’s Hospital said, “Our supply chain teams have secured contracts for N95s and we continue to receive shipments. Even with these efforts, we need to proactively take steps to preserve our supply, given high usage of N95s.”
Bessuille said that after spending the first two waves of the pandemic on a floor that only cared for COVID-19 positive patients, she hopes hospital management will work with the nurses as the highly-contagious omicron variant spreads.
“They are still not listening,” she said. “It’s exhausting to continue to have to fight for what we know is the right thing.”
(Copyright (c) 2022 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)