Largest Hospital Chain In The Country Under Fire For PPE Access
NASHVILLE, TN — Hospital Corporation of America (NYSE: HCA), the nation’s largest for-profit healthcare operator, is facing growing backlash over employees’ access to adequate personal protective equipment (PPE), such as N95 masks, from thousands of frontline healthcare workers at HCA hospitals across the U.S.
In the midst of the global COVID-19 pandemic, caregivers say the massive hospital chain is not consistently providing life-saving PPE, and in some cases is instead forcing caregivers to utilize less reliable masks or to risk cross-contamination by re-using single-use PPE for multiple shifts.
“I’m deeply concerned that PPE protocols at the largest hospital chain in the country may be systemically putting lives at risk. I’ve cared for patients for 18 years. We are asking HCA to provide necessary PPE,” said Pat Diaz, a registered nurse at HCA’s University Hospital Medical Center in Oakland Park, Florida. “My co-workers and I depend on PPE such as N95 masks to protect us from COVID-19 and other infectious diseases. Protecting worker health and safety is especially critical now, when our patients and our communities are depending on us at the frontlines in fighting this pandemic.”
HCA is receiving $4.7 billion in taxpayer-funded COVID-19 bailout funds. This includes a $4 billion advance on Medicare payments and a $700 million payment under the CARES Act according to their most recent earnings call.
Protests At HCA Hospitals In Missouri, Texas, Nevada & Florida
Caregivers’ lack of adequate PPE has prompted protests at HCA hospitals from coast to coast:
- First responders at HCA-owned Florida hospitals sent HCA executives a Cease and Desist notice when they were instructed to use less effective PPE.
- In California, HCA suspended frontline nursing staff for speaking out about the need for PPE. After public outcry, they were reinstated.
- Protests have swept HCA hospitals from Florida to California.
- Online, workers are speaking out independently about safety, including on HCA’s own social media, despite fear of reprisals, and at Nashville Headquarters.
Now, caregivers are raising the alarm on the national level — taking their concerns directly to HCA’s shareholders and CEO Samuel Hazan at the company’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday, May 1, 2020. They’ll be speaking out about the risks workers face at HCA hospitals, and calling for urgent action to protect their health and safety.
Caregivers like Leora Stirrat, a Unit Secretary at HCA’s Blake Medical Center in Bradenton, Florida are urging HCA to provide the following common-sense safeguards to keep workers and patients safe:
- Ensure adequate and sterile PPE for every worker, on every shift
- Provide universal testing for COVID-19
- Guarantee affordable healthcare and paid sick leave for workers impacted by COVID-19
Over 50,000 people have already died from this pandemic in the U.S. Caregivers refuse to stand by as HCA executives contribute to potentially thousands more, and will continue speaking up until HCA proves its commitment to protecting workers and stemming the tide of COVID-19.
Nashville-based HCA Healthcare (NYSE: HCA) is one of largest healthcare services providers in the U.S., with 186 hospitals and approximately 2,000 sites of care in 21 states and the United Kingdom. HCA is by many measures the largest hospital company in the U.S. with over $50 billion in revenues in 2019.