Michigan nurses say they are forced to wear same mask all day, beg for help during COVID-19 pandemic

Michigan COVID-19 hospitalizations are up, and nurses are begging lawmakers for help.

MORE: Beaumont hospital hits critical capacity

"I don't know that I've ever worked with sicker patients than these covid patients. They're just so fragile," said Luke Vandenberg, a nurse at Sparrow Hospital in Lansing.

Vandenberg and other nurses met with representatives Debbie Dingell and Rashida Tlaib on Thursday to share their concerns about their working conditions.

"We call it frontline because it's like wartime nursing," Vandenberg said. "You're jumping from one crisis to the next and you're doing so with too few staff and often too few resources."

According to the nurses, they do not have the proper PPE and are being forced to wear the same mask all day, are moving between COVID and non-COVID patients, and have to work 16-hour shifts.

"You wouldn't send a firefighter in without oxygen, and nurses aren't given the proper PPE to go in these rooms," said Carie Babcock, a nurse at McLaren Lapeer Region Hospital in Lapeer.

The nurses said they also are not being tested for the virus.

"It's absurd that the football team at U of M gets tested every day and the nurses in our hospitals are not," said Jamie Brown, a nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo. "Nurses have brought this virus home and infected their families."

The nurses said that instead of helping patients by washing their hair or holding their hands, they're helping them say goodbye to family members on an iPad.

They're asking President Joe Biden to keep his promise of an emergency temporary standard from OSHA that would address their concerns by ordering hospitals to supply proper PPE.

"Hospital employers will not do the right thing unless they are made to do so," said Janella James, the executive director of the Michigan Nurses Association.

The lawmakers couldn't believe what the nurses were telling them.

"I was stunned by what I heard. I'm deeply upset but I also need to say, too, they are our heroes, and to hear their personal stories, we both were crying," Dingell said.

The congresswomen reached out to the White House.

"These are issues that can't be ignored. They must be addressed," Dingell said.