Manitoba nurses and the province have come to an agreement to make sure that all nursing staff will receive “enhanced” personal protective equipment (PPE) when they need it amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Shared Health’s chief nursing officer Lanette Siragusa said Tuesday that the province’s stockpile of things like N95 respirators is “stabilizing.”
This means more of the specialty masks will be available for those who provide direct care to those who have tested positive for the novel coronavirus.
“We are confident that health-care workers will be mindful of the current evidence that shows how the virus is transmitted, that there is very low COVID-19 activity in Manitoba, and the ongoing need to conserve supplies when they are determining the equipment they require to provide direct patient care to COVID-19-positive and suspect patients,” Siragusa said.
So far, 6,511 health-care workers have been tested for COVID-19, and 26 of them were positive.
There has not been a COVID-19-positive health-care worker since May 10.
The Manitoba Nurses Union called the agreement “a victory.”
“For months, nurses have been voicing concern about inadequate PPE in light of the COVID-19 pandemic,” said MNU president Darlene Jackson.
“Every nurse has a right to a safe workplace, and this agreement is a big step in the right direction following months of advocacy by nurses on this critical health and safety issue.”
The MNU said several provinces have reached an agreement with nurses and health-care workers to guarantee appropriate PPE use when needed.
“Following months of government refusals to collaborate, MNU took legal action towards an arbitrated settlement,” the union said in a statement.
The agreement includes the following:
- Makes N95 respirators available to all nurses who ask who are caring for a confirmed or suspected COVID-19 patient.
- Allows nurses to determine the level of protection in other situations.
- Implements a two-mask-per-shift policy with a goal of a four-mask-per-shift polity.
- Establishes a PPE committee with MNU and Shared Health.
- Rescinds guidelines and memos that limit workplace accommodations for pregnant or immunocompromised workers.
- Restores some privacy protections.
The MNU represents more than 12,000 nurses in Manitoba.
As of Monday, there were 325 confirmed cases of the coronavirus in Manitoba. Only one active case remains, and there have been no new active cases for 13 days.