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MNA Nurses and Healthcare Professionals on Front Lines of COVID-19 Pandemic Commend Governor and Legislature for Passage of Healthcare Worker Liability Protection Act
Liability protection for nurses and healthcare professionals battling COVID-19 has been a top priority for the Massachusetts Nurses Association
CANTON, Mass. – The Massachusetts Nurses Association applauds legislation signed into law by Gov. Charlie Baker on the night of April 17 that offers important liability protections for nurses, healthcare professionals and healthcare facilities on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.
The MNA, representing more than 23,000 frontline nurses and healthcare professionals in 85 healthcare facilities, has been urging the swift passage of liability protection legislation during this unprecedented public health crisis. An act to provide liability protections for health care workers and facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic (S. 2630) was filed by Gov. Baker and covers claims filed during the ongoing state of emergency declared on March 10.
Liability protection for frontline healthcare workers and healthcare facilities has been among the recommendations the MNA has sent to Gov. Baker in weekly letters about COVID-19. The MNA also wrote to the chairs of the Joint Committee on Financial Services on April 13 in support of Baker’s legislation.
“We are in the midst of a severe pandemic,” said RN and MNA President Donna Kelly-Williams. “Our healthcare system and our healthcare personnel are being tested like never before. Due to this, common and long-standing care protocols cannot be met due to the pressure on the care system.
“Registered nurses and other healthcare providers are being placed into care units and floors to which they are unfamiliar and utilizing new procedures in an attempt to give COVID-19 patients every opportunity to survive,” Kelly-Williams said. “The front-lines of our healthcare system are stretched to the limit. This bill protects those on the front lines from liability under the duress of these difficult conditions, while recognizing gross negligence will not be tolerated or accepted.”
In its sixth letter to Gov. Baker on April 14, the MNA called on state officials and healthcare employers to immediately apply the experience and expertise of nurses and healthcare workers on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. The MNA also sent Attorney General Maura Healey a letter on April 13 requesting immediate intervention in three hospital service closures.
Recommendations from the MNA’s most recent letter included:
- Providing safe and consistent personal protective equipment (PPE), including one-time use N95 masks, to every frontline healthcare worker
- Not placing healthcare workers in the position of being test cases for largely unvetted and unproven mask re-use and decontamination procedures
- Halting dangerous and inexcusable closures of intensive care units and other essential services
- Ensuring there are no staff layoffs or cancellations when redeployments can bolster surge capacity and hospitals are receiving more than $800 million in additional state and federal funding
Read the April 14, 2020 MNA letter to Gov. Baker, previous letters, COVID-19 position statements and more information at www.massnurses.org/COVID-19.
Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 23,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.