Protest outside Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center

Updated: Sep. 7, 2020 at 5:11 PM CDT
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TUSCALOOSA, Ala. (WBRC) - Nearly two dozen nurses and others took their complaints about the Tuscaloosa VA to the streets Monday. “We are not allowed to get the testing as we desire. Some of the nurses that have been exposed are not able to get testing, and some of the nurses that have been exposed and come back to work have not been able to get confirmed testing that they converted to negative,” Juanetta Jemison, a registered nurse at the Tuscaloosa VA said.

The group is worried about exposing themselves and their loved ones to COVID-19. They lined up near an entrance holding signs and chanting they want more done to protect them and patients who get care here.

“It also puts our patients in jeopardy. They’re older and have more co-morbidities, diabetes, heart conditions. All these things, asthma, COPD those things that would truly put them in jeopardy,” Jemison continued.

James Williams, who identified himself as Vietnam veteran, asked administrators to take action. “So surely, whatever they need for protection, let us get ready, get prepared, to get it to them. Management wake up. Do what you need to do and protect workers here,” Williams added.

Protesters also said more transparency is needed in the hiring of qualified minorities at the Tuscaloosa VA. “We’re also asking for these jobs either because we’re qualified or over-qualified. So we just want management to know we expect fairness,” Jemison said.

Monday’s Labor Day rally was organized by the National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United according to a press release.

A spokesperson at the Tuscaloosa VA released the following statement:

"The comments from National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United lack credibility, considering that during the pandemic, Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center employees have provided care to 15 COVID inpatients and 84 COVID outpatients while adhering to safety practices that have limited its current COVID employee infection rate to 0.3 percent.

The pandemic tested America’s health care infrastructure like few events have in anyone’s living memory, and the Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center passed that test because it worked together as a team.

Union bosses should be praising this teamwork rather than trying to sow division."

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