New York nurses filed three lawsuits against New York State and area hospitals for spreading COVID-19 among nurses, family and patients.

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On Monday, the New York State Nurses Association (NYSNA) filed three lawsuits against the New York State Department of Health (DOH) and two hospitals, Montefiore Medical Center and Westchester Medical Center.

The lawsuit claims officials failed to protect the health and safety of nurses treating COVID-19 patients.

“More than seven in ten of our nurses are reporting exposure to COVID-19 and most are still untested. These lawsuits were filed to protect our nurses, our patients and our communities from grossly inadequate and negligent protections,” NYSNA Executive Director Pat Kane said in a statement. “We cannot allow these dangerous practices to continue.”

According to the lawsuits, by compromising the health and safety of the nurses, the DOH and the two hospitals jeopardized patients, their families and the communities.

The lawsuits also allege, medical professionals weren't given impermeable gowns and other PPE to cover RNs bodies; not properly training nurses redeployed from hospital units; and inadequate provision of safe working conditions for high-risk employees, including pregnant nurses.

The lawsuit against DOH seeks to enforce Gov. Cuomo’s directive that each nurse is given at least one N95 respirator daily. The suit alleges a failure to provide sick leave afforded to all New Yorkers and forcing nurses to come to work sick, putting their co-workers, patients, families and communities at risk.

“I still had COVID-19 symptoms, a supervisor in the staffing office directed me to report to work. That same day, I was informed that I had tested positive for COVID-19.”  Hilary Schneck, RN, Vassar Brothers Medical Center, said in the affidavit.

The action against Westchester Medical Center was file for 1,600 RNs. Montefiore was sued on behalf of the 3,000 RNs at the hospital, seeking to restore safe working conditions.

“I began experiencing symptoms consistent with COVID-19, including cough and fever. I reported my symptoms to Montefiore and asked for testing. I was informed that Montefiore would not test me. I obtained testing on my own found out that I tested positive for COVID-19.” Pamela Brown-Richardson, RN, Montefiore Medical Center, said in the affidavit

A spokesperson for the New York State Department of Health told the Wall Street Journal the state is continuing to take every step necessary to support medical staff during this unprecedented public health emergency. A spokesperson from Westchester Medical Center said the allegations are wrong adding, "our focus is, and has always been, protecting our workforce.”

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