The Communication's Workers of America are sounding the alarm on what they call unsafe staffing levels at Mohawk Valley Health System, and the union also claims that in some cases, staff have been force to reused PPE from fellow co-workers.

In a press-release to local media, the CWA union says other hospitals across New York have a 90 day stockpile of PPE, but claim that isn't the case at MVHS. The release also says not only are some staff asked to reuse PPE, including N95 masks multiple times, in some instances, ''our members have reported not even receiving their own masks to reuse.''

The release then notes that according to the CDC, ''N95 respirators must only be used by a single wearer.''

CWA says not only are healthcare workers lacking the 'proper armor' to protect themselves, they say patient safety is being compromised by inadequate staffing levels. The release also quotes a Surgery Recovery Room nurse, Barb Spudie, “When we’re short staffed, we are rushed. We become torn between what will be left undone and we hope no harm will come to our patients because of that which we could not do.”

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CWA says it has also given the hospital more than 500 ''Assignment Despite Objection'' forms which MVHS nurses have filled with the local union for instances the believe could jeopardize their medical license due to unsafe conditions.

MVHS has released a statement in response denying the allegations of insufficient staffing and unapproved PPE use, that reads in part:

At MVHS, keeping our employees and patients safe is paramount to everything we do – and this includes ensuring appropriate staffing levels and having proper PPE. In fact, our hospitals’ nurse managers meet each morning to assess staffing in relation to the ever-changing patient needs and requirements, and to make adjustments (e.g., calling in additional staff, moving a staff member to another unit that has more patients) as necessary. And, we continue to aggressively recruit for new employees in a very challenging, competitive marketplace.
As for PPE, in order to conserve our limited supply of N95 masks, MVHS uses a CDC-approved method for cleaning the masks which is similar to the process for cleaning surgical instruments. At this point, hospitals across the nation – and the world – are competing for N95s and our focus is making sure we have a 90-day supply – which we do with our reuse policy. In fact, the unions and our employees have access to a PPE dashboard that shows our stock of PPE supplies.

You can read the entire response from MVHS, here - Statement in Response to CWA Release 11.30.20.

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