Incredibly, hospital managements are telling nurses who get COVID – probably through their work – to use their own vacation and sick days to stay home.
“Early in the pandemic, nurses were celebrated as heroes, with nightly symphonies of clapping or banging pots and pans. Now, many are being asked to go into work despite positive Covid tests — or they say they are being told they must use their vacation and sick days to stay home when they contract the coronavirus.
‘You’re talking about a group of people who sat at bedsides — not one a night, multiple, because we were consistently losing people. We were holding the iPads as people said their last goodbyes,’ said Ana Bergeron, a registered nurse who is the president of a local union affiliate. ‘I can’t tell you how sick it makes me now being called a hero, because that’s not how we’re being treated by our employers.’
As the omicron variant continues to spread rapidly across the country, nurses at numerous hospitals have had to use their own sick days and vacation days if they test positive for Covid-19, according to conversations with 10 nurses at five hospitals, two unions representing thousands of nurses at many more and an internal memo reviewed by NBC News. In some instances, nurses who test positive have also been instructed to return to work if they are asymptomatic, according to another internal memo, also reviewed by NBC News.
‘Healthcare providers (HCP) who test positive for Covid-19 and are asymptomatic may return to work immediately without isolation and without testing,’ reads a memo sent Tuesday to the staff of St. Francis Medical Center in Lynwood, California. ‘These healthcare providers must wear an N95 respirator for source control. The HCP may be assigned to Covid-19 positive patients if possible.’
As St. Francis Medical Center said in a statement, its memo uses guidance from the California Department of Public Health that is in effect from Jan. 8 until Feb. 1.
‘At St. Francis Medical Center, employees who fall under this criteria may choose to return to work or follow the guidelines for sick leave as set forth in their collective bargaining agreement,’ spokesperson Chris Yarnovich said. ‘St. Francis continues to institute all safety standards and measures to mitigate staffing shortages as we continue to care for patients during this surge.'”
For the rest of the story, visit NBC News here.