A union representing New York nurses filed multiple lawsuits on Monday, accusing the state and two hospitals of allegedly "compromising the health and safety of" members fighting the coronavirus pandemic.
The New York State Nurses Association launched state civil complaints against the New York State Department of Health and Westchester Medical Center and a federal lawsuit against Montefiore Medical Center.
Nurse Pat Kane, the union's executive director, said 70 percent of her members are exposed to coronavirus and most "are still untested."
In addition to more testing, the union is demanding that nurses be better equipped with enough protective N95 masks as they treat patients with COVID-19, the disease associated with coronavirus.
"These lawsuits were filed to protect our nurses, our patients and our communities from grossly inadequate and negligent protections,” Kane said in a statement. “We cannot allow these dangerous practices to continue.”
The union represents 3,000 nurses at Montefiore and 1,600 more at Westchester.
Jonah Bruno, director of communications for the state health department, declined comment on the lawsuit but thanked nurses for all of their efforts.
"We are deeply grateful for the ongoing efforts of New York’s health care workers to reduce the spread of COVID-19 by testing people who may be infected and treating those who are most in need," said Bruno.
Meanwhile, a Westchester Medical Center spokesman insisted his hospital is properly caring for staff and patients.
"While we cannot comment on pending litigation, we know, and our care providers know, that the allegations in NYSNA’s lawsuit are wrong," according to a statement by the hospital. "NYSNA’s lawsuit is irresponsible and a distraction from this work, and a disservice to all who are valiantly caring for these patients every day."
Montefiore Medical Center released a statement saying the union's leadership "has chosen to attack a system, and the commitment of thousands of their colleagues, who have followed the Governor’s emergency orders and are selflessly doing all they can to fight COVID-19 and save lives."