'Disrespectful, dehumanizing': Medical worker pleads for more protective gear

Medical workers are desperately calling for more protective gear to help them in the fight against the coronavirus.

"The fact that you can't provide us with the stuff that we need to do our jobs, is disrespectful, demoralizing, it's dehumanizing and it takes away our basic rights," said Amy Pacholk.

Pacholk is a surgical trauma nurse and union steward. She says many health care workers on the front lines on Long Island still do not have enough PPE, despite what Gov. Andrew Cuomo and hospital administrators are telling the public.

"We have been getting every hospital what they say they need," said Cuomo Saturday. "If there is a disconnect between nurses and their hospital administrator, I can't help with that...right now."

According to the governor's office, at issue is whether a hospital is operating under the CDC crisis guidelines, which recommend that hospitals try and extend PPE supplies, like wearing the same mask and gown for more than one patient. The governor's office says the state has enough PPE for any hospital that says it needs them.

Cuomo's office says hospital administrators tell them they do have enough PPE but then they hear the opposite from some nurses who say because a hospital is still operating under crisis guidelines, they are reusing equipment.

Cuomo's office says they are now asking hospitals if they are still operating under the crisis guidelines.

"Is it because you don't have proper supply, you need us to have you backfill, where are you ordering from to solve that?" said Secretary to the Governor Melissa DeRosa. "Because we want to make sure that the nurses on the front line have what they need to stay safe."

Pacholk says not having enough PPE also diminishes the standard of care for patients, something she says should not change, even in the midst of a pandemic.

"Some people are wearing their masks for five days, some people are wearing their mask for seven days, some people are wearing them for up to a month," she said.

Pacholk says as long as the front line workers don't have enough of what they need to do their job safely, she will keep speaking up for those workers who are putting their lives on the line for everyone else.

In a statement to News 12, a representative with Stony Brook University Hospital said they have enough supplies, saying "they have an adequate amount of PPE for their staff, and there is no shortage."

A spokesman for Northwell Health said in part, "Northwell Health has maintained an appropriate supply of personal protective equipment and have broadened access to N95 respirators."