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Nurses are planning protests at 15 hospitals in six states this week against what they say is “a lack of preparedness” by HCA Healthcare, a major hospital chain in the United States. National Nurses United, one of the largest nurse’s unions in the country, is leading the protests and demanding that HCA provide nurses with the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need during the coronavirus pandemic.

“When we are infected, no one is safe,” Kim Smith, a registered nurse in Texas who works in an intensive care unit now dedicated to treating COVID-19 patients, said in a news release announcing the protests. “When we are infected, we become a real danger of infecting everyone else around us, patients, hospital staff, and a risk to our own families.”

Jean Ross, a registered nurse and co-president of National Nurses United (NNU), said nurses at various HCA hospitals have reported that they have had to work without proper protective equipment. 

“Nurses say they are not informed when they (are) exposed to an infected patient,” she said in the news release. “They are told to unsafely reuse masks and at one hospital they are even being told not to wear masks because it ‘scared the patients.'”

The union said nurses are planning to protest Wednesday and Thursday at HCA hospitals in California, Florida, Missouri, Texas, Nevada and North Carolina. The demonstrations come after nurses protested last week in New York, Georgia, Illinois and several California cities, also over a lack of PPE. 

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