Nurses continue to ask for change at Port Charlotte’s Fawcett Memorial Hospital

Credit: WINK News

A group of Southwest Florida nurses is raising awareness to the conditions of their hospital. They said they sometimes have to reuse personal protective equipment and sometimes they have none.

The group from Fawcett Memorial Hospital in Port Charlotte held a rally on Thursday – and not for the first time – to seek better conditions in the workplace.

Armed with signs and chants, the message from the nurses is loud and clear. For some of them, it’s a matter of life and death. Some say they have to hang up their gowns after visiting patients so they can be reused.

Registered nurse Cynthia Butler said she has already recovered from COVID-19 and worries she’ll get it again or give it to someone else because of the lack of personal protective equipment.

“It’s scary. I dread going to work. I dread the kind of situation I’m getting put in every day,” Butler said.

The nurses said they’re understaffed and overworked, which makes it harder to effectively do their jobs and, in turn, that poor staffing leads to poor patient care.

“It’s terrible and they are still saying that staffing is good. And they are still trying to make patients come to the hospital expecting to get proper care,” said registered nurse June Phillips.

All 19 ICU beds at Fawcett Memorial are occupied, according to the Agency for Healthcare Administration.

The nurses fighting for change Thursday said they hospital is down to 290 nurses. Four quit this past weekend and 17 haven’t worked since April.

“The staffing condition is so bad it cannot get any worse,” Phillips said.

Not all nurses agree. ER and charge nurse Shana Lewandowski claimed the nurses have everything they need and haven’t had to reuse personal protective equipment.

“They need to understand we are working together and this isn’t the time to do this. This is a time to come together in the pandemic to support our hospital and our patients, not waste our time out here doing this,” Lewandowski said.

The hospital said it has hired more nurses who will start over the next several weeks.

The nurses said if things don’t change by Aug. 5, they’ll be right back outside rallying for change.

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