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AT A LOSS - COVID High Risk Nurse

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Specializes in sub-acute/rehab; acute psych. Has 2 years experience.

Friends. I just recently started an acute care job on a high acuity floor. I am on week 2-ish of orientation. This is my first acute care job as an RN. I worked at a SNF right out of nursing school and was ecstatic to be moving on to the hospital after a long job search (new grads flood my area). Then COVID-19 rose to the level of threat we are at today. I am likely considered a "high risk" due to my medical history. I'm not immunocompromised, but have some other heart/lung things I'm monitored for. My family is now VERY concerned for my safety working in these current times, to the point of asking me to stay home/quit the job.

I'm at a loss. What are my options? How can I effectively refuse COVID patients? Can I? When I signed up to be an RN, I signed up to assume the risk(s) of the job. Also, as a brand new employee I fear my employer may just cut their losses if I bring something like this up. For reference, there are no confirmed cases in the county I work, but that's a matter of time. We'd be OK financially if I didn't work.. but with the new grad job market what is is here, I fear starting the search all over again. I'm not a quitter, never have been. That's why I'm struggling so bad with the idea of giving up what I worked so hard for. How can I turn my back on the profession at a time the need is the greatest?!

*sigh*

please chime in with your thoughts!

From my outlook, I would advise you to keep the job. Take things one day at a time. You would kick yourself if you overreacted and later found that things passed your facility and unit in a mild wave, then you could not obtain that coveted acute care position again. Remember, you have the option to resign. They cannot force you to work. Stay with it until a clearer path presents itself.

malamud69, ADN, BSN, EMT-B

Specializes in Emergency. Has 11 years experience.

I believe we are all entering into a decision by decision moment by moment time. Clarity comes with each step. Unfortunately I believe we are all in the position that there is no absolute right answer and there is no absolute wrong answer. Look at every decision forward… For whatever that means for you and your situation… As one small victory added to the next. Momentum is the key

Trampledunderfoot, LPN

Specializes in Corrections, Dementia/Alzheimer's. Has 3 years experience.

9 hours ago, caliotter3 said:

Remember, you have the option to resign. They cannot force you to work. Stay with it until a clearer path presents itself.

Will there come a time when they CAN force you to work?

Or where your license will have corrective action if you quit work when the nation is counting on you?

On the news they are comparing it to WW2. Can they "draft" nurses, or arrest them for refusing to work?

PAPRWRK

Specializes in ICU. Has 27 years experience.

Ask HR and employee health. Call your PMD. If your PMD agrees and can write a note then this could back you up with HR and employee health. Maybe you could be floated to another area.

pixierose, BSN, RN

Specializes in ED, psych. Has 4 years experience.

Take it day by day.

It is such a fluid, dynamic situation - no one knows what will happen tomorrow, much less a week or a month from now.

Like someone else said, it may pass over your facility (or floor) like a wave. Or by the time you are there, supply need may have been met (or is currently). There are so many factors at play.

I’m high risk - chemo and MS. Work at an ED. My NM and hospital are fantastic; they’re doing their best to keep us safe. I trust them, so for now I’m staying. It’s that or I leave my coworkers in the dust. I’m OK for now; that might change. It might be the same for you.

motherofcats, ADN

Specializes in sub-acute/rehab; acute psych. Has 2 years experience.

6 hours ago, PAPRWRK said:

Ask HR and employee health. Call your PMD. If your PMD agrees and can write a note then this could back you up with HR and employee health. Maybe you could be floated to another area.

Unfortunately they can't hold my position because I'm so new, still on orientation and probation.

motherofcats, ADN

Specializes in sub-acute/rehab; acute psych. Has 2 years experience.

Thanks everyone for your feedback. After many tears and hours of deliberation I made the decision not to return to orientation. One, because the facility was already a couple hours from my home and my plan to stay in hotels was not a feasible one with the current situation, also, my health comes first. The manager said to me "if your health is so fragile maybe you should rethink acute care because nurses are exposed to everything". That was a hit, because I'm well aware of the risks of nursing and don't mind being exposed to a little cdiff or whatever here and there- treatments exist for most of the pathogens we encounter. Until COVID that is. So call me fragile if you want. I know I'm not.

On 3/21/2020 at 2:03 PM, motherofcats said:

Thanks everyone for your feedback. After many tears and hours of deliberation I made the decision not to return to orientation. One, because the facility was already a couple hours from my home and my plan to stay in hotels was not a feasible one with the current situation, also, my health comes first. The manager said to me "if your health is so fragile maybe you should rethink acute care because nurses are exposed to everything". That was a hit, because I'm well aware of the risks of nursing and don't mind being exposed to a little cdiff or whatever here and there- treatments exist for most of the pathogens we encounter. Until COVID that is. So call me fragile if you want. I know I'm not.

Only YOU can decide what's best for you. With the current PPE shortage, I think you made the right call. Had they been willing to work with you and move you elsewhere, it may have been different.