NJ nurse defends PPE supply to hospitals during White House event
A New Jersey nurse inadvertently became part of a strained conversation in the Oval Office about the availability of personal protective equipment.
Nurses from around the country were with President Donald Trump to celebrate National Nurses Day and honor the profession being on the front line in the fight against COVID-19.
"America’s nurses are waging a heroic war against the invisible enemy. They’re fighting on the front lines of the battle, risking their health to save lives of fellow citizens and, honestly, to save lives — like we say about the police — to save lives of people they don’t know," Trump said during the meeting.
During a conversation about the availability of PPE, Sophia Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, told Trump she had been wearing the same N95 mask at her hospital in New Orleans for a week and that the supply of PPE was “sporadic.”
Trump replied “sporadic for you” and said the situation had improved. He mentioned his visit the day before to a Honeywell plant in Arizona that he said was making "millions of masks" a month.
Maria Arvonio, who was representing both the National Association of Catholic Nurses and Virtua Hospital in Willingboro, where she is a nursing supervisor, said there was no shortage at her hospital.
She credited her assistant Dennis Hunter for allowing her staff to not worry about PPE supply.
"He said, 'Do you know what? You guys take care of nursing; we’ll make sure we have the supply,'” Arvonio said.
Trump thanked Arvonio for "stepping up" and called reports of PPE shortages "fake news."
Earlier in the ceremony, Arvonio also addressed the president about the role compassion has in nursing and her experience with her first COVID-19 patient.
"The thing that I noticed is that minute when I touched her hand — and we’re gloved and all — but touched her hand and said, 'You’re going to be OK, ma’am.' I looked at — right in her eyes, and, sir, she was OK," Arvonio said.
"I know it’s the compassion of the nurse. It’s not just our science; it’s our compassion."
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