Twelve nurses at the University of Illinois Hospital in Chicago have tested positive for COVID-19, but hospital officials denied claims that nurses were required to work without proper equipment.
The Illinois Nurses Association, a union that represents nurses, blamed hospital officials and the government.
“These nurses served patients on the front line of the fight to contain the coronavirus pandemic and risked their lives to make sure patients received proper care,” INA Executive Director Alice Johnson said in a statement. “We hoped their hospital and their government would protect them, but they failed.”
The union further claimed that nurses in the COVID Care Unit were forced to work without personal protective equipment.
“One nurse said their unit manager scolded them for wearing a mask in a room where a COVID-19 positive patient was being intubated,” Johnson said.
Michael Zenn, CEO of the University of Illinois Hospital and Clinics, confirmed 12 nurses had tested positive for COVID-19, the disease caused by the new coronavirus. However, he said a limited number of the 12 cases were thought to be from exposure in the hospital.
“Our policy for COVID-19 is that all providers who care for patients confirmed to have COVID-19 or suspected of having COVID-19 should wear PPE,” Zenn said in a statement. “There are no circumstances in which we would ask our care providers to forgo PPE when caring for COVID-19 patients.”
He said that while the hospital was concerned about the availability of PPE, it had not yet run out of any materials.
Zenn also said the hospital implemented new guidance Friday for all employees in inpatient and outpatient units to wear masks daily.
“We are very grateful to all of our nurses and care providers for the dedication they show to our patients and for their heroic efforts during this pandemic,” he said in a statement.