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A Nurse Bought Protective Supplies for Her Colleagues Using GoFundMe. The Hospital Suspended Her.

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Something bad happens to the brains of some when they are given authority, something Lord Acton pointed out long ago: “Power corrupts. Absolute power corrupts absolutely.”

Marshall Allen points out an example in ProPublica:

Olga Matievskaya and her fellow intensive care nurses at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey were so desperate for gowns and masks to protect themselves from the coronavirus that they turned to the online fundraising site GoFundMe to raise money.

The donations flowed in — more than $12,000 — and Matievskaya used some of them to buy about 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 150 jumpsuits. She and her colleagues at the hospital celebrated protecting themselves and their patients from the spread of the virus.

But rather than thanking the staff, hospital administrators on Saturday suspended Matievskaya for distributing “unauthorized” protective gear.

Across the country, front-line medical providers and hospital administrators are butting heads about precautions against the coronavirus pandemic. Clinicians are being told to reuse or go without necessary supplies even when treating patients infected with COVID-19. That goes against the way they’ve been trained. Some doctors and nurses now say they are being instructed not to speak to journalists and disciplined for doing so or taking action to protect themselves.

Matievskaya spoke to ProPublica last week about the fundraising campaign. She said she had been able to purchase most of what the nurses needed on eBay. She did not criticize her administrators, and after her suspension she declined to comment. But four other Newark Beth Israel nurses spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity about the dire shortage of gear.

All four said their administration has failed to provide the supplies they need to protect themselves and patients. Two of them work in the intensive care unit, which houses the sickest patients. The other two work in other areas of the hospital. They said Matievskaya showed leadership to keep people safe where their hospital administration has not. “There was no information distributed” about not being allowed to purchase supplies for others on staff, one of the nurses told ProPublica.

The hospital told ProPublica in a statement that Matievskaya’s suspension ended Monday. “No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital,” the statement said. “The nurse in question was temporarily suspended for inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies, against this policy.”

The hospital said it ensures clinicians have the supplies they need by following guidance from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for reusing gear. “We are working 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to ensure that the appropriate PPE gets to the right staff, at the right time,” the hospital said in its statement.

It did not answer questions about what would become of the supplies purchased through the campaign or whether other nurses who participated in the fundraising might be subject to discipline.

The confrontation at Newark Beth Israel may foretell what’s coming in other cities. Northern New Jersey, just outside New York City, is one of the nation’s hotspots, with more than 41,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases as of Monday. As of Thursday, the 665-bed hospital had housed 196 COVID-19 patients, according to an internal communication to hospital staff. Hospitals across the country have shortages of protective equipment, according to a report published Monday by the Office of Inspector General for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

Aline Holmes, a clinical associate professor at the Rutgers School of Nursing, said she didn’t know the details of the case but was “very surprised” to hear of Matievskaya’s suspension. Hospital administrators are telling clinicians to reuse supplies, she said, which violates typical infection control standards. Suspending a nurse for obtaining protective equipment “doesn’t make any sense,” Holmes said.

“That just seems counterintuitive and really not a good message to send to your staff,” Holmes said. “The staff have a right to protect themselves. If the hospital can’t provide the necessary supplies, they have a right to do what they need to do. They’re caring for the sickest patients in the hospital right now.”

The situation is changing by the day as Newark Beth Israel acquires and runs through its supplies. But the four nurses told ProPublica that they have often not been given the N95 respirator masks the CDC has recommended to protect themselves from the virus. One of the ICU nurses said for at least one shift she received a regular surgical mask, which in her opinion is “like putting a paper towel over your face.”

Some nurses outside the intensive care unit have been given a single surgical mask in a brown paper bag that they’re expected to use for an entire week, one nurse said. Nurses at other hospitals around the country have made similar statements.

The shortage of gowns has also . . .

Continue reading.

A rational response would be to praise the nurse for her initiative and promote her in view of her responsible and creative response to an emergency situation.

Written by Leisureguy

7 April 2020 at 1:40 pm

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