Brigham nurses, hospital officials disagree over visitor policy, other COVID-19 issues | Top stories

Brigham nurses, hospital officials disagree over visitor policy, other COVID-19 issues

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Nurses are calling the visitor policy “lax,” while officials say it was actually changed for safety reasons in the latest wave.

John Tlumacki / Globe staff

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

But hospital officials say the policy was actually changed for safety reasons during the current spike in COVID-19 cases.

Brigham’s lax visitor policy during the Omicron wave puts patients and nurses at a higher risk of infection, especially in maternity wards where patients and staff are in close contact with support people during long periods, “Kelly Morgan, a labor and delivery nurse at Brigham and deputy chair of the MPs bargaining committee, said in a statement. A support person is counted as a visitor, the MP said.

For the current week, a total of 190 nurses and a total of 693 employees have tested positive for COVID-19. Last week, it was 156 nurses and 459 employees in total, according to the statement.

Nurses also accuse the hospital of “failing to adequately enforce personal protective equipment requirements for visitors.”

Other hospitals, like Beth Israel Lahey, do not allow visitors. St. Elizabeth’s Medical Center has a restricted visitor policy with a few exceptions, including palliative care, labor and delivery, NICU, people with physical and intellectual disabilities, and minors.

At Brigham, nurses said they feared visitors positive for COVID-19 could enter the hospital.

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

“In accordance with new guidelines from the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, we also strongly encourage visitors to postpone their visit to a later date when community transmission rates are lower,” hospital officials said in a statement. . “Hospital visitors are screened upon entry for symptoms of COVID-19 and are required to follow our infection control policies, including wearing a hospital-issued mask. “

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

Booster access

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

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

Test availability

“Nurses have to wait several days for asymptomatic and symptomatic tests,” nurses said in the press release. “It is having a negative impact on the Brigham staff crisis and on the lives of nurses and other staff.”

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

“At the main Brigham campus, we have increased testing capacity by 44% during this period and more than doubled our capacity at the nearby West Roxbury testing site,” hospital officials said.

PPE issues

Nurses are concerned about the N95 mask policy, saying nurses “do not automatically change N95 between patients.”

“If nurses are not properly protected, it creates a greater risk for patients, for our colleagues and their families,” the nurses said. “Nurses reminded the hospital to provide fit testing and additional training on the types of N95 used.”

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

“Even with these efforts, we must take proactive steps to preserve our supply, given the high usage of N95. In accordance with Massachusetts Department of Public Health guidelines, we have implemented expanded use of N95 respirators, where employees can continue to wear their N95 mask without removing it during patient encounters, but as soon as a mask is removed. , it must be thrown away and replaced with a new one, ”hospital officials said in the statement.


Brigham nurses, hospital officials disagree over visitor policy, other COVID-19 issues

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