Washington State Nurses Association alleges St. Joseph Medical Center reusing mattresses damaged by bodily fluids
Washington State Nurses Association alleges St. Joseph Medical Center reusing mattresses damaged by bodily fluids

Source: Google News

The hospital is refuting claims from the Washington State Nursing Association that it didn’t act quickly enough.

TACOMA, Wash. — Editor’s note: Three days after KING 5 published this story, the Washington State Nurses Association said that St. Joseph Medical Center management has since reported all compromised mattresses have been removed from the labor and delivery unit.

The St. Joseph Medical Center is under fire after the Washington State Nurses Association (WSNA) said the hospital has been reusing damaged mattresses for months, endangering both staff and patients.

The WSNA sent KING 5 video showing blood and other bodily fluids seeping out of one of the hospital’s mattresses. Jayson Dick, director of the WSNA’s Labor Advocacy Division, said he’s seen this before but not to this degree.

“I’ve been a nurse for 20 years, and that was one of the things where it’s like, that’s pretty gross,” he said.

Dick said nurses in the Labor and Delivery Department noticed that fluids were leaking out of the beds, but the beds were used for other patients.

St. Joseph President Jennifer Schomburg said the mattress in the video was immediately discarded after it was used and was never used again.

The WSNA filed a complaint with the Washington state Department of Health back in October. The complaint says the damaged mattresses pose a significant risk to patients, especially given where these mattresses were found.

“Blood and other fluids can carry infectious diseases and other illnesses,” Dick explained. “Given where this is taking place in Labor and Delivery, there are a lot of bodily fluids expressed during the birthing process, and sitting on top of a compromised mattress, yeah, there’s a huge potential risk.”

In a statement, Schomburg said that “any mattresses that are compromised are immediately taken out of commission and not used for patient care.”

However, Dick says nurses are reporting that damaged mattresses are still being used.

“When it was brought to the administration, they decided to try to patch the beds, and several weeks to two months later, we’re still seeing beds in use that are patched and still expressing these fluids,” he said.

Schomberg said that it is protocol to patch mattresses only in certain situations, and the hospital’s actions have been timely, but Dick said more needs done to address this issue for the sake of the patients and staff.

“Their concerns are not being heard, and they’re not being addressed,” he said. “Whether or not the nurses want to continue or can continue working in an environment like that takes a huge toll on our ability to retain good, qualified nurses at the bedside.”

Schomburg’s statement also cites supply chain disruptions as a reason why the hospital isn’t able to order replacement beds as quickly as usual, and that patching is just a stop-gap. The statement adds replacement beds have been ordered and are arriving, but this does not mean that damaged or compromised beds are in use until replacements are available.