April 3, 2020

Letter to Premier, Minister & Dr. Fitzgerald: Protect Health Care Workers

The following letter was sent to Premier Ball, Minister Haggie and Dr. Fitzgerald on April 1, 2020, from RNU President Debbie Forward. 

Dear Premier Ball, Minister Haggie, and Dr. Fitzgerald,

In follow up to previous conversations, I’m writing today to request an urgent meeting to discuss personal protective equipment (PPE) guidelines for the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia just announced important new measures to protect the health and safety of health care workers and their patients.

I implore you to do the same.

We must enable registered nurses and nurse practitioners to use the precautionary principle to prevent exposure to and transmission of COVID-19.

Further, we must trust their expertise and judgement.

Joint statements signed by employers and unions in Ontario and Alberta recognize the critical importance of the point-of-care risk assessment in determining PPE.

In these provinces, a health care worker can now determine – based on their professional and clinical judgement – that they require access to protective equipment, such as an N95 respirator to care for a suspected or confirmed COVID-19 patient, and the employer will not unreasonably deny access to it.

The joint statements also include a commitment to the conservation and stewardship of PPE to ensure the health and safety of health care workers and patients throughout the pandemic. This is an important measure given supply capacity.

We’re in this together. I know we share the same goal – beating this virus.

The time is now. If our health care workers are safe and healthy, they will be there for patients.

The Government of Newfoundland and Labrador is doing so much to prevent the spread and flatten the curve; this is another crucial step. We remain grateful for your leadership and commitment to the health and safety of Newfoundlanders and Labradorians as we fight this pandemic.

I look forward to the opportunity to meet with you soon.

In Solidarity,

Debbie Forward, RN

President, RNUNL