Letters to the Editor: Hospitals needs to stop treating nurses like they’re expendable

Nurses at Providence St. John's Health Center have refused to work on coronavirus wards without more protective gear.
Nurses at Providence St. John’s Health Center have refused to work on coronavirus wards without more protective gear.
(Courtesy of Liz Wade, RN)

To the editor: Thanks to columnist Michael Hiltzik for calling out Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica for its backward thinking. As a patient of Providence over the last 30 years and as a nursing instructor at that hospital, I have changed my views on ever choosing to be admitted there again.

The feeling that the hospital cares more about a doctor’s well-being than a nurse’s — at St. John’s, nurses said doctors were making their rounds wearing the far more protective N95 respirator masks — is like being gut-punched.

When nurses are sick, who takes care of the patients? Definitely not the doctors. If the COVID-19 unit operates like others, doctors frequently glance or just ask the patient how they’re doing. Then they go to the nurses’ station to ask for an update on how a patient’s lungs sound.


Nurses are in close proximity with patients 24/7, but physicians typically see patients for only a few minutes at a time. Clearly it’s the nurses who need the extra protection, not the doctors.

Marcy Bregman, Agoura Hills

The writer is a registered nurse.


To the editor: If nursing were a male-dominated profession, would nurses be ordered to treat COVID-19 patients without first being issued N95 masks? Would they be disciplined for demanding N95 masks before treating COVID-19 patients?

At this point, more than 9,000 U.S. health workers have been sickened with COVID-19, and nearly three-quarters are female.

Hospital administrators: Give your nurses N95 masks.

Deborah DeSilva, Carlsbad