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Union says nurses worried about protective equipment shortages

HUNTINGTON — A union representing nurses with Cabell Huntington Hospital has expressed concern about hospital policies and the availability of personal protective equipment, but a hospital official said the hospital is complying with state and federal guidelines.

Joyce Gibson, West Virginia director for SEIU District 1199, says the union has an obligation to make sure the workers have the personal protective equipment (PPE) they need to protect themselves, their co-workers, their families and patients. Gibson says nurses are sounding the alarm about PPE shortages and the hospital’s policy asking nurses to reuse masks.

“If we have a shortage of masks, which we are being asked to reuse, we risk creating cross-contamination,” said Melanie Chapman, an intensive care unit nurse.

Gibson said union members work across the Huntington region and provide critical health care services as workers with local nursing homes, the American Red Cross, Head Start programs, and as hospital workers, including at Cabell Huntington Hospital, and are concerned as well.

Mike Mullins, president and CEO of Mountain Health Network, said he was disheartened that the SEIU is taking advantage of this unprecedented time to invoke additional worry around COVID-19 with what he called baseless comments.

“The reality is Cabell Huntington Hospital is in compliance with state and CDC guidelines, and is working to ensure we maintain a sufficient supply of masks and PPE throughout the pandemic,” he said in an email response. “Therefore, as part of our commitment to the health and safety of both our employees and patients, we have instituted a policy to conserve masks. Staff members have been advised on how to properly and safely utilize masks as well as receive replacement masks. More important, emphasis has been on handwashing to prevent spread of illness.”

Mullins added that over the past week, the hospital has implemented additional measures to support safety and reduce exposure, such as stopping elective surgeries, enacting a no-visitor policy and restricting access to facilities.

SEIU District 1199 won the right to represent nurses at Cabell Huntington Hospital and is in contract negotiations with hospital executives after 60% of the registered nurses at the hospital voted to unionize in late 2019.

Across the nation, advocacy groups, health care workers, providers and public health officials have been speaking out about the need for more personal protective equipment for front-line health care workers before any potential crisis deepens. On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., said she spoke with members of the West Virginia Hospital Association about their needs to tackle this pandemic, which include providing more PPE and allowing for more flexibility for hospital bed use.

Girl Scouts suspend booth sales, plan donation drive for first responders

HUNTINGTON — For health and safety reasons, the Girl Scouts of Black Diamond have halted all booth cookie sales, but are asking for help in getting those tasty treats in deserving hands.

With physical sales canceled, hundreds of troops are left with cases upon cases of cookies they still need to sell to help reach their goals for service projects, programming or community initiatives.

Now, Girl Scouts are asking those in West Virginia, Ohio, Maryland and Virginia to donate money to buy out the cookie stock to be donated to first responders around the area.

To donate, visit bit.ly/cookiebuyout, enter your information and choose your donation amount. For every $5 collected, one box of cookies will be donated.

“This is a crucial time to support Girl Scouts,” said Beth Casey, CEO of Girl Scouts of Black Diamond. “Our Girl Scouts have been working hard to reach their goals, and now they’re working on one more: supporting the people on the front lines of providing health care to individuals. Please consider making a donation today to help us help them.”

Girl Scout leaders are prepared around the state to get donations to the first responders working to combat COVID-19. For more information, visit www.bdgsc.org.

Online poll

Stay-at-home order

QUESTION: Do you think West Virginia Gov. Jim Justice’s “stay at home” order goes far enough to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the coronavirus?

Visit www.herald-dispatch.com and click on the News tab at the top of the page to find the poll and record your vote. Then visit the newspaper’s Facebook page where you can elaborate on your response. Poll results will appear in this column Friday.

Police roundup: Search for suspect continues after Huntington stabbing

HUNTINGTON — Huntington police were looking Wednesday for a woman suspected of stabbing a man along 9th Avenue in Huntington.

According to interim Huntington Police Chief Ray Cornwell, the stabbing was reported in the 900 block of 9th Avenue. Police found John Edward Spears, 57, with stab wounds to his buttocks and right thigh. His injuries were not considered to be life-threatening.

The suspect is a white female, about 5 feet, 6 inches tall and weighing 122 pounds. The victim and suspect had only known each other for a few hours, Cornwell said.

According to booking records at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville, no arrests had been made as of press time Wednesday.

The following information was provided by police reports from the Huntington Police Department:

The Huntington Police Department listed 10 new incident reports in the 24-hour period ending at 3 p.m. Wednesday, according to a printout released by the department. However, the individual police reports were not made available, so these are the only known details:

Destruction of property, 10 p.m. Tuesday, 700 block of West 7th Street.

Destruction of property, 9:45 p.m. Sunday, 400 block of 8th Avenue.

Petit larceny, 8:12 p.m. Monday, 2500 block of 1st Avenue.

Petit larceny, domestic battery, 2:30 p.m. Tuesday, 1300 block of Marcum Terrace.

Destruction of property, disorderly conduct, 5:37 p.m. Tuesday, 600 block of 10th Street.

Shoplifting, 1:18 p.m. Tuesday, 900 block of 9th Avenue.

DUI less than .150, 1:18 p.m. Tuesday, 900 block of 9th Avenue.

Destruction of property, 12:25 a.m. Monday, unit block of Washington Avenue.

Information report, 11 a.m. Monday, unit block of Ferrell Court.

Petit larceny, 8 p.m. Monday, 200 block of 6th Avenue.

The following information was provided by booking records kept at Western Regional Jail:

Justin Eugene Ooten, 27, was jailed at 11:55 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with assault on a police officer, obstructing and battery. Bond was not set.

Jedediah Seth Turner, 22, was jailed at 5:50 p.m. Tuesday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with robbery and battery. Bond was not set.

Anthony Ray Bell, 32, was jailed at 12:55 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities in Cabell County charged him with fleeing from an officer. He was also jailed on two active warrants. Bond was not set.

Randall L. Mays, 38, was jailed at 12:52 a.m. Wednesday. Authorities in Putnam County charged him with strangulation. Bond was not set.

Cabell adds four new student meal locations

HUNTINGTON — Cabell County Schools has added several grab-and-go student meal sites to operate Monday through Friday through the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Bagged lunches and breakfasts for the following day will be provided by the district at the following new locations:

  • Big Lots, 18th Street West, Huntington, 12:15 to 12:30 p.m.
  • Bloomingdale Church, 5241 W.Va. 10, Salt Rock, 11 to 11:15 a.m.
  • Huntington East Middle School, 1 Campbell Drive, Huntington, 11:45 a.m. to 12:15 p.m.
  • Milton Elementary School, 1201 Pike St., Milton, 11:30 to 11:45 a.m.

The full list of meal sites can be found at www.cabellschools.com.

The district advised those who do not have access to a meal service site to call the food services office at 304-528-5048.



The website to virtually tip area service workers affected by the COVID-19 pandemic is www.helphuntington.com. A story in Wednesday’s edition of The Herald-Dispatch incorrectly listed the website.

The Herald-Dispatch will correct any reporting or editing errors that appear in its news columns. For corrections, please call the city desk at 304-526-2799 or 800-444-2446.