Fed up with the life-threatening conditions in which its members are being forced to work, a New York nurses union took legal action against the state and two hospitals.
The New York State Nurses Association filed state civil lawsuits against the New York State Department of Health and Westchester Medical Center and a federal lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center.
Many of the nurses working in these locations have yet to be tested for the coronavirus, despite its highly contagious nature. Nurse Pat Kane, the union's executive director, said 70 percent of her members are exposed to coronavirus without knowing their status.
Along with testing, Kane and the other union members are demanding that nurses be better equipped with the personal protective equipment that they need to stay safe. Specifically, the 3,000 nurses at Montefiore and 1,600 more at Westchester want enough protective N95 masks as they treat patients with COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.
"These lawsuits were filed to protect our nurses, our patients and our communities from grossly inadequate and negligent protections,” Kane said in a statement. “We cannot allow these dangerous practices to continue.”
"While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we know, and our care providers know, that the allegations in NYSNA’s lawsuit are wrong," Westchester Medical Center fought back in its own statement. "NYSNA’s lawsuit is irresponsible and a distraction from this work, and a disservice to all who are valiantly caring for these patients every day."