Nurses voice concern, ask for more COVID-19 protections

Published: Mar. 29, 2020 at 7:15 PM EDT
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Last Thursday, the Michigan Nurse's Union presented UPHS-Marquette with a proposal asking for more protections for nurses due to COVID-19.

One of the conditions is providing paid time off to nurses who contract COVID-19 or who need to self-quarantine.

"If they are being called off, they have to use their own pay, or put in PTO time,” said MGH Registered Nurse Staff Council Secretary, Suzette Hantz. Hantz is also a registered nurse.

The union is also asking the hospital to exempt at-risk nurses, such as pregnant or immunocompromised nurses, from caring for COVID-19 patients.

"Those who are immunocompromised, we should be keeping them out of the rooms so those nurses don't potentially get something, and then they're at a greater risk for actually catching it since their immune system is lower,” Hantz said.

MGH Registered Nurse Staff Council, Stephanie DePetro, says the nurses are also asking to have trained nurses at the front of the hospital to properly screen patients and visitors for COVID-19 symptoms.

"We were also told that nurses would find other positions to do in the hospital, which included having a registered nurse sit at the entrances of the hospital, screening and assessing patients, visitors, and practitioners that come into the building. We were notified last Thursday that nurses will no longer be doing those duties,” DePetro said.

Both DePetro and Hantz say the hospital is also not using nurses properly, with many being sent home despite jobs they could be doing at the hospital.

"I think one of the main concerns we have too, is that right now we have so many nurses that are not being utilized every day, and they're being subjected to financial hardship,” DePetro added.

DePetro says the hospital needs to be training nurses in order to protect against a possible widespread COVID-19 outbreak.

"It's really important to me to try to keep as many nurses as possible working, protecting the community, protecting the staff. We just want to make sure everyone is here and available when this finally does hit,” DePetro said.

We reached out to UPHS-Marquette, who declined to give a statement at this time.

TV6 and FOX UP will continue to update this story.