COVID-19 oubreak highlights need for regular testing, appropriate PPE at all hospitals

September 4th, 2020

Dear NUHW Member:

Throughout this pandemic Santa Rosa Memorial Hospital — and the entire Providence St. Joseph hospital system — has been one of the worst offenders when it comes to refusing to test workers or provide appropriate PPE.

Now the hospital has reported one of the worst outbreaks of any healthcare facility with NUHW members. To date, 17 Santa Rosa Memorial caregivers have tested positive, including five NUHW members, none of whom, fortunately have required hospitalization. Additionally, at least two patients contracted COVID-19 inside the hospital.

Santa Rosa Memorial, which was already severely understaffed, recently brought in help from the National Guard to provide additional nurses and the nursing assistants — the two job classifications most impacted by the outbreak.

This outbreak should never have happened. Workers were put at risk for three reasons:

  1. The hospital has refused to test caregivers, even those with symptoms. At the onset of the outbreak, it denied a test to a worker who was feeling sick and later tested positive for COVID-19.
  2. The hospital is not providing N95 respirator masks for nursing assistants, transporters and phlebotomists who are caring for patients who either have COVID-19 or are suspected of having COVID-19.
  3. Despite testing newly admitted patients for COVID-19, the hospital is not fully isolating them while they await the test results, increasing the risk of spreading the virus.

NUHW members are fighting even harder at Santa Rosa Memorial for adequate protections, and they’ve been sharing their concerns with local reporters at the Santa Rosa Press Democrat and ABC-7.

It’s outrageous that Santa Rosa Memorial officials trace the outbreak back to Aug. 6, but didn’t inform employees until Aug. 28 — the same day the hospital finally began widespread testing.

Testing is needed to prevent outbreaks. And, we are continuing to push ahead with our call for hospitals, correctional facilities and home health agencies to test workers at least once a month.

If you have any concerns or questions related to COVID-19, please email us at COVID19@nuhw.com.

In Unity,
Sal Rosselli, President
Sophia Mendoza, Secretary-Treasurer
National Union of Healthcare Workers