'We are not sacrificial': California nurses speak out about an industry in crisis

Nearly 10,000 people in skilled nursing homes throughout the state have become infected with the coronavirus.
FRESNO, Calif. (KFSN) -- It's an industry unions say is in crisis, but skilled nurses have been dealing with problems long before the pandemic.

Nearly 10,000 people in skilled nursing homes throughout the state have become infected with the coronavirus.

April Verrett, the President of Service Employees International Union says skilled nursing facilities are often understaffed because many have submitted waivers, claiming they can't meet certain staff levels once Senate Bill 97 passed in 2018.

One Fresno employee at Dycora Transitional health care asked to stay anonymous, but says despite having protective gear, employees have yet to be given access to the essential protective gowns they need to stay safe.

"The staff was told they do have them, but they're saving them if there is a coronavirus case," says the employee.

So far, Fresno County has seen more 40 confirmed COVID-19 cases at skilled nursing facilities, including Dycora health care.

Tulare County has seen even more at such facilities.

Verrett says facilities like these need to have two weeks' worth of PPE and better staffing regulations.

"We need proper protocols to mitigate the spread of the virus in these facilities, and that takes training... We are not sacrificial and it's time for us to not be treated as such."

Verrett says union members across California will be taking action throughout facilities come Thursday in hopes of seeing some changes before more lives are lost.
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