Alameda Health Systems Nurses Stage "Lightning" Rally

Alameda Health Systems Nurses Stage "Lightning" Rally

Registered nurses and employees with the Alameda Health System (AHS) and Bay Area human rights activists held a "lightning" rally Tuesday, April 7, at Alameda Hospital to voice their concerns with the lack of adequate personal protective equipment and weakened patient care standards for health care workers  and patients during the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the California Nurses Association (CNA).

Several dozen people were at the rally holding signs and talking to people as they passed by the hospital. One person held a sign that said "These gloves are disposable. Health care works are not." Another sign read the hashtag "#protectnurses". Nurses at AHS are calling on the Alameda County Board of Supervisors to oversee AHS in order to protect the community during this time of crisis.

AHS workers believe the "unethical working conditions and the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic are the result of federal inaction when the first cases were identified; decades of divestment from public health; and AHS’s failure to budget for the patients and community before CEO salaries," according to a CNA press release. The rally comes on the heels of three AHS employees contracting COVID-19. AHS officials reported the news to its employees, but would not disclose who the employees are or where did they work at. AHS has 13 health facilities in its network. 

COVID-19 pandemic preparedness has been a contentious topic for AHS workers for several weeks. AHS nurses, doctors and workers held a protest in front of Highland Hospital in Oakland on March 26. Another protest was held on April 9. According to a report on March 29, nurses at Highland Hospital created their own protective equipment by cutting holes in trash bags and placing them over their uniforms. They were told that they had to wear patient gowns over their work clothes because they did not have enough protective gowns, but workers felt trash bags would be more effective in preventing infectious diseases than patient gowns. 

Along with the registered nurses and union employees, human rights advocacy groups GABRIELA Oakland, Migrante NorCal and AnakBayan East Bay helped lead the rally.