Las Vegas hospital workers call for probe into conditions during pandemic

Las Vegas hospital workers call for probe into conditions during pandemic
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Hospital workers in Las Vegas are calling on Nevada health officials to investigate claims of unsafe working conditions amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The workers, who are members of the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), say that HCA Healthcare hospitals they work in are understaffed to serve the volume of patients and that they lack sufficient personal protective equipment such as gloves, masks and face shields.

A particular concern is that the hospitals are now reportedly allowing employees who have a mild to moderate case of COVID-19 to return to work in 10 days if their symptoms have subsided without getting tested again to confirm that they're no longer sick with the virus.

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“We’re calling on [HCA Healthcare] that because we believe that it is a moral issue, they should go above what the CDC guideline is,” Grace Vergara-Mactal, executive director of the union chapter, told The Las Vegas Review-Journal.

SEIU represents over 4,000 nurses and other staff at the Las Vegas-area hospitals, all operated by HCA.

On Friday, union representatives and 30 workers reportedly delivered a stack of nearly 500 complaints from HCA employees to the Nevada Division of Public and Behavioral Health's office in Las Vegas.

HCA has pushed back against the workers' complaints.

“Our hospitals are fully operational and our staff’s focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care,” spokesman Antonio Castelan told the newspaper. “We are disappointed that the union is taking this approach as it is not constructive.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated their guidelines regarding employees returning to work after testing positive for COVID-19, downgrading the wait time from 14 days to 10 and not requiring a negative test as long as symptoms are no longer present.