Nurses say they could be fired for using their own protective gear

SANTA BARBARA, Calif .– A leaflet circulating among medical staff at Kaiser Permanente hospitals and clinics in Ventura County says supervisors have threatened to fire nurses “on site” if they bring their own personal protective equipment, such as N95 masks, and wore them while changing while caring for suspected and known COVID-19 patients.

Nurses reached out to NewsChannel 3 Investigates Tipline in hopes of sharing their story and describing what they are facing right now. Nurses said they were forced to bring their own PPE (personal protective equipment) as hospitals struggle to find enough masks, gowns and other essential supplies to cope with the growing number of patients COVID-19. Since hospitals cannot provide the life-saving equipment required, nurses said they had no choice but to bring their own protective gear. The only other alternative is to not use any protection.

Kaiser Permanente has facilities throughout California, including several in Ventura, Oxnard, Camarillo and Thousand Oaks. NewsChannel 3 reached out to Kaiser regarding the leaflet released by the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United. It took several attempts to elicit responses to the specific allegations in the flyer, but a Kaiser spokesperson emailed this response: “No one was fired. There has never been a threat of dismissal. And the droplet protection protocols, which are the COVID-19 assessment and treatment protocols, make it clear where N95 masks are used and where they are not. The response was written by Marc Brown, director and national public relations and media for Kaiser Permanente at its Oakland headquarters.

NewsChannel 3 has also contacted the California Nurses Association and National Nurses United. “It appears Kaiser has now withdrawn threats of dismissal according to statements by their spokespersons after nurses widely protested at several Kaiser hospitals over insufficient PPE and threats against nurses wearing their own masks,” he said. writes a spokesperson for CNA and the UN.

Nurses who contacted our NewsChannel 3 Investigates Tipline did not want their identities revealed. They believe they could still be fired, or at the very least reprimanded, for speaking publicly about the challenges they face during the health crisis. They said the stress is extremely high as they try to treat the sick without getting sick themselves and without passing the virus on to family members.

Reports are surfacing across the country of doctors and nurses being fired for talking about what they see every day in hospitals. Ming Lin, a Washington state emergency physician, said he was fired for telling a newspaper about a Facebook article describing the inadequate protective equipment he was forced to use. A Chicago nurse was reportedly fired for emailing colleagues asking for more protective gear. She’s suing the hospital. Another Chicago nurse identified on Twitter as @ nurse.iv4 posted an emotional video describing how she quit her job following a dispute with hospital management over the use of her own N95 mask when treating COVID-19 patients.

Previous National stockpile protective gear nearly depleted, DHS officials say
Next Coronavirus in Oregon (April 3): Protective gear dwindles as COVID-19 spreads