Brigham nurses, hospital officials at odds over visitor policy, other COVID-19-related issues

coronavirus

Nurses call the visitor policy “loose” while officials say it has actually been changed for safety’s sake during the latest surge.

John Tlumacki/Globe Staff

Nurses at Brigham and Women’s Hospital are expressing concern over what they call a “loose visitor policy”.

But hospital officials claim that the policy has actually been changed to protect during the current spike in COVID-19 cases.

“Brigham’s loose visitor policy during the Omicron boom is putting patients and nurses at higher risk for infection, particularly in maternity units where patients and staff are in close contact with support people for extended periods of time,” said Kelly Morgan, a labor and delivery nurse at Brigham and deputy chairman of the MNA bargaining committee, said in a press release, A support person counts as a visitor, clarified the MNA.

For the current week, a total of 190 nurses and a total of 693 staff have tested positive for COVID-19. According to the press release last week it was a total of 156 nurses and 459 employees.

Nurses also accused the hospital of “not adequately implementing personal protective equipment requirements for visitors”.

There are other hospitals like Beth Israel Lahey. visitors not allowed, St. Elizabeth Medical Center has one Restricted Visitors Policy With few exceptions, those include hospice, labor and delivery, NICU, physical and intellectual disabilities, and minors.

At Brigham, nurses said they are concerned that visitors who are COVID-19 positive may be entering the hospital.

But the hospital says it has already addressed the visitor policy, limiting visitor hours, and reducing visitors to one, not two, per day, effective Wednesday.

“In accordance with new guidance from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, we are encouraging visitors to delay their visit until a later date, when the rate of community transmission is low,” hospital officials said in a statement. “Visitors to the hospital are screened upon admission for symptoms of COVID-19 and are required to follow our infection control policies, including wearing masks, issued by the hospital.”

Nurses and hospitals also differ in several other areas related to COVID-19:

booster access

Nurses want hospital to make it easier to get a COVID-19 booster shot.

However, hospital officials say they have “doubled the number of vaccine appointments” for workers in the past three weeks.

test availability

“Nurses have to wait for several days for asymptomatic and symptomatic tests,” the nurses said in the press release. “This is causing Brigham’s staffing crisis and negatively impacting the lives of nurses and other staff.”

The hospital says it has “doubled our capacity in the past three weeks,” adding that it has same-day appointments for staff.

“At Brigham Main Campus, we have increased testing capacity by 44 percent over that period and more than doubled our capacity at the nearby West Roxbury testing site,” hospital officials said.

PPE Issues

Nurses are concerned with the N95 mask policy, saying that nurses “do not automatically change their N95s between patients.”

“If nurses are not properly protected, it poses a greater risk to patients, to our colleagues and to families,” the nurses said. “Nurses remind the hospital that they need to provide fit testing and additional education about the types of N95s in use.”

However, the hospital called N95 supply “one of our top priorities” and said the hospital is receiving shipments of respirator masks.

“Despite these efforts, we need to take proactive steps to maintain our supply, as N95s are heavily used. In alignment with Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidance, we have implemented the expanded use of N95 respirators, where employees are able to continue wearing their N95 masks without removing them at patient encounters, but as soon as the mask is removed It should be thrown away and replaced with a new one,” hospital officials said in the statement.