COLUMBUS (WCMH) — The Ohio Nurses Association has filed a complaint to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration about hazardous COVID-19 exposure to workers at Ohio State’s Wexner Medical Center.
The complaint accuses the medical center of not providing adequate protection or training for health care workers during the pandemic.
In a letter to OSHA, Rick Lucas, president of The Ohio State University Nurses Organization, said at least 85 nurses have had confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The letter states the nurses were not provided proper equipment like masks and goggles and some had to bring their own.
The Ohio Nurses Association represents about 4,000 nurses and it wants to see changes at the hospital and soon.
“There are issues where supplies are stored on separate floors, so in an emergency, a nurse has to run two floors away to get PPE. so it’s not readily available to them,” Lucas said. “These are issues that we’re seeing.”
Dr. Andrew Thomas, chief clinical officer for The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, issued the following statement Tuesday evening:
We have the utmost respect and admiration for our clinical staff who have been doing fantastic work during this pandemic. We’re working very hard to support them and keep all of our 30,000 employees and our patients safe.— Dr. Andrew Thomas, Chief Clinical Officer, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center
We can’t respond to a complaint that we haven’t officially received from OSHA. We highly value our relationship with the union. In fact, members of our leadership team meet daily with union representatives to listen and address any concerns.
We have taken numerous steps to keep everyone safe and support our front line staff: Since the beginning of the outbreak, we have been following the evolving guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on the appropriate isolation of COVID-19 patients and the requirements for personal protective equipment for our staff. We continue to work tirelessly to purchase PPE and maximize usage of those we have. We have postponed elective procedures to conserve PPE. We’ve partnered with Battelle to use an FDA-approved process to sterilize N-95 masks. We have developed in-house testing methods which significantly reduce the turnaround time for COVID-19 lab tests in an effort to identify patients as quickly as possible, which helps to preserve PPE if those tests come back negative. We strictly limited visitation to protect our staff and patients. We have daily temperature and symptom monitoring for all staff, patients and visitors entering our facilities. If a staff member does need to quarantine due to a COVID-19 exposure, we offer pay preservation leave that allows paid time off. This allows employees to retain their traditional sick or vacation time.
Nothing means more to us than the health and safety of our colleagues, our patients and their families.
The full complaint to OSHA by the nurses’ organization can be read below.