SAN FRANCISCO/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thou-sands of nurses across the United States staged protest rallies and strikes on Wednesday over what they say is insufficient protection for health workers dealing with patients possibly stricken with the deadly Ebola virus.
California-based National Nurses United had expected about 100,000 nurses nationwide to participate in the protest, but officials from the union could not say on Thursday afternoon how many people took part.
The union is embroiled in contract talks with the operators of nearly 90 California hospitals and clinics, and one hospital in Washington, DC.
About 19,000 nurses who on Tuesday began a two-day strike against those California facilities were part of the Ebola measures protest, which in other parts of the country did not involve nurses walking off the job.
Healthcare provider Kaiser Permanente, which operates most of the California facilities where the nurses were striking, has accused the union of using Ebola as a pretext to justify labour action.
The nurses are pressing hospitals to buy ha-zardous materials suits which leave no skin ex-posed, as well as powered air-purifying respi-rators, to properly protect nurses from exposure, and they are calling for more training to handle patients suspected of having Ebola.
“The best way to protect our community is to protect our nurses,” said Evan Brost, a nurse who joined more than 30 people in a protest outside the White House over Ebola measures.