More than 3,000 Brigham and Women’s Hospital nurses are calling for stronger safety measures to contain an ongoing COVID cluster at the institution that has grown to at least 44 infections, the Massachusetts Nurses Association announced.
“Our absolute priority as Brigham nurses is to keep patients safe and the hospital’s lax compliance with COVID-19 safety protections is making that extremely difficult,” said Trish Powers, operating room nurse and chair of the Brigham MNA Bargaining Unit.
Powers said in a statement, “Unfortunately, hospital executives have not always listened to our expertise and have created an environment where policies around visitors, masking and social distancing are either not being followed or are not strong enough.”
There are 3,400 Brigham nurses represented by MNA that are collectively calling for restricted visitation, except in certain situations such as labor and delivery, visiting a terminally ill patient or someone supporting a patient with specialized communication needs.
BWH announced the detection of the COVID cluster last week, which originally included five infected patients and five staff members.
As of Saturday, the number of infections had grown to 34, according to the hospital.
But in a press release issued Monday, the MNA said infections had increased to a total of 44. Brigham and Women’s is expected to update its figures on the cluster late Monday afternoon.
The statement from MNA said the hospital does not require visitor testing and nurses are reporting seeing many more members of the public inside the hospital.
During the spring coronavirus surge, a restricted visitor policy was in place at BWH and nurses are now advocating to a return to the policy.
Hospital policy generally limits patients to one visitor, but nurses are seeing multiple visitors going to see patients, according to MNA.
Nurses are also asking for a universal N-95 masking policy, a 50% capacity on shuttles for nurses and other staff members and transparent infection communication.
Brigham and Women’s did not immediately respond to request for comment.