Ohio nurses report hoarding, theft of protective gear amid coronavirus outbreak

Nurses urge improved safety and protocols
Posted at 5:40 PM, Mar 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-03-13 19:41:43-04

CLEVELAND — The Ohio Nurses Association is urging hospitals across the state to improve communication between nurses and hospitals ranging from protocols to protective nurses amid the growing coronavirus outbreak.

ONA President Deborah Arms says Ohio nurses will do whatever is needed to care for patients but is concerned that communication between nurses and hospitals varies widely across the state.

“Some hospitals are doing better than others,” says Arms, whose association represents 190,000 nurses across the state.

Personal protective equipment, like gloves, masks and gowns are at the top of the list of concerns.

“We know there is a limited supply," warns Arms, “and we know there is some hoarding going on. We know there is some stealing of masks going on."

The Cleveland Clinic reports it has not witnessed hoarding or theft issues, while University Hospitals says “supplies are tight” and it “has taken measures to secure key supplies."

A representative for the MetroHealth system said he is not aware of any thefts of equipment.

"We have ramped up our inventory control but have no incidents," said Mike Tobin, MetroHealth's Vice President of Communications, Government and Community Relations.

Plus, there are lingering questions about protocol in hospital safety plans.

“How many tests they have, what’s their policy about testing, people that present in the emergency room?” Arms said.

In addition, nurses have questions about what happens if they need to be quarantined.

“If the nurse gets exposed,” says Arms, “and has to be quarantined for 14 days—who’s going to take the place of that nurse for that patient? That’s where you have a problem with danger to the patient."