COVID-Positive Nurses Working: Irresponsible or Smart?

Published
by J.Adderton J.Adderton, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 29 years experience.

On Monday, November 9th, the governor of North Dakota announced COVID positive healthcare providers (HCP), without symptoms, will be allowed to continue working in COVID-19 units in hospitals and nursing homes. Is the decision a step in the right direction or simply irresponsible?  Read on to learn more.

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Hoosier_RN, MSN

Specializes in dialysis. Has 29 years experience. 3,561 Posts

On 11/17/2020 at 5:33 AM, PMFB-RN said:

Translation: We don't care about the health or welfare of our nurses.

 

Or the patient base who may receive care from said nurses

NurseNelly24

NurseNelly24, BSN

Specializes in ER, Tele/Medsurg, Ambulatory PACU. Has 8 years experience. 47 Posts

On 11/18/2020 at 2:44 PM, macawake said:

I don’t think that is what they’re suggesting. The plan seems to be for Covid-19+ nurses to care for patients who are also Covid-19+, not that sick nurses care for immunocompromised patients who do not have Covid. 
 

 

I see what you mean but even if a nurse is COVID++ and is able to take care of patients in the same cohort, it doesn’t mean it reduces her risk of spreading it to her colleagues. The nurses station, locker room, bathroom lounge area, cafeteria are all places where the potential to spread. Unless we expect that nurse to stay in those rooms their entire shift. 
 

Also, these hospitals are absolutely NOT considering the personal self-care measures needed for those nurses to overcome the virus. How can we take care of other people if we’re not taking care of ourselves first. 

NurseNelly24

NurseNelly24, BSN

Specializes in ER, Tele/Medsurg, Ambulatory PACU. Has 8 years experience. 47 Posts

I don’t see how it’s possible that hospitals will implement visitor restrictions, institute social distance practices, tell people to stay home, yet the very factor that could potentiate increased exposure to the virus, is being implemented by hospital systems; and nurses are once again the sacrificial, disposable lambs. 

Some hospitals are even making it optional for doctors to enter COVID+ rooms so they aren’t exposed—leaving the nurses to be the jack of all trades, doing the meds, assessments, feedings, family meetings, etc.
 

I don’t care how long I’ve been working there, any hospital that doesn’t take my health or my safety seriously will get the boot. Not in these times. 

Here.I.Stand, BSN, RN

Specializes in SICU, trauma, neuro. Has 16 years experience. 5,047 Posts

Wth no.... COVID+ nurses should be at home resting their bodies.  ?

OUxPhys

OUxPhys, BSN, RN

Specializes in Cardiology. Has 7 years experience. 1,200 Posts

This isn't just happening in North Dakota. Here in Ohio there are several hospitals that allow covid positive nurses to still work if they are asymptomatic. 

bestallaround

bestallaround, ADN, CNA, LPN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry/Stepdown, Government Nursing. Has 23 years experience. 71 Posts

Real talk......I work at a small rural hospital in NC. We have had probably over half the staff test positive at some point. The very first nurse to get sick and test positive was out of work for about 3-4 weeks. She could not return until she had 2 consecutive negative tests. That was in the beginning. Months into COVID, when many more staff got it, people were coming back to work as early as within the week. In one weekend, we had 9 nurses test positive on my unit alone! And were experiencing symptoms! And back to work in less than two weeks! The whole frigging county had it! Small town, (Trumpers), not following simple guidelines like wearing masks in public and staying home. These people are still going to church, having gatherings, going out of town...yes, even the nurses who are supposed to know better. In fact, our nurse manager's father was admitted on our floor with COVID. There are 3 of us who haven't gotten sick (yet) and have been super vigilant about our practices. We are scared, but it is easy to see how others are letting their guard down and endangering themselves and others...starting with hospital leadership. Really, I hate to get political, but if the leader of our great nation didn't take it seriously....

NurseNelly24

NurseNelly24, BSN

Specializes in ER, Tele/Medsurg, Ambulatory PACU. Has 8 years experience. 47 Posts

4 hours ago, bestallaround said:

Real talk......I work at a small rural hospital in NC. We have had probably over half the staff test positive at some point. The very first nurse to get sick and test positive was out of work for about 3-4 weeks. She could not return until she had 2 consecutive negative tests. That was in the beginning. Months into COVID, when many more staff got it, people were coming back to work as early as within the week. In one weekend, we had 9 nurses test positive on my unit alone! And were experiencing symptoms! And back to work in less than two weeks! The whole frigging county had it! Small town, (Trumpers), not following simple guidelines like wearing masks in public and staying home. These people are still going to church, having gatherings, going out of town...yes, even the nurses who are supposed to know better. In fact, our nurse manager's father was admitted on our floor with COVID. There are 3 of us who haven't gotten sick (yet) and have been super vigilant about our practices. We are scared, but it is easy to see how others are letting their guard down and endangering themselves and others...starting with hospital leadership. Really, I hate to get political, but if the leader of our great nation didn't take it seriously....

1000% agree. Public health goes hand in hand with politics. So if our country's leaders didn't take the virus seriously, how do we expect the citizens to do the same. There's people who to this day don't believe the virus exists. It's sad. Also, I hope you continue to stay safe, because to have so many COVID+ staff on the unit is wild. 

Edited by NurseNelly24

Frannyjoy

Frannyjoy

2 Posts

Irresponsible or smart? 
That is a strange question to pose when looking at this situation. There are other options, they are simply not convenient for administrators, nor are they focused on the bottom line. How about wards? Open areas with beds where patients of similar acuity in a region can be placed and cared for by a nurse who can much more easily have eyes on and assess 12 patients in a row than she can 6 or 8 in individual rooms. That would address staffing needs by reducing the need for as many nurses. I wouldn’t accept these working conditions, making Covid positive nurses work, until this was done first. This would be possible, it would simply require a cooperative effort and funding from corporate healthcare. They need either an incentive to do this or they need to be forced to do this. They have made money hand over fist via the commodification of healthcare in this country for years. It’s time to pay it back. Supply shortages at this stage of the game are unacceptable, and forcing nurses to work short and infected 9 months in without a better plan is also unacceptable. Nurses should not feel ANY guilt. They should not let administrators push them toward feeling guilty, when it is the administrators, ceos, politicians, and the public that has failed THEM. Nurses work hard and they will show up in the storm for their patients. It’s time for nurses to hold everyone else to the same standard. 

T-Bird78

T-Bird78

Has 6 years experience. 1,007 Posts

I’m an LPN in ambulatory care but my office is part of a large healthcare system that includes several hospitals across 7 counties in my state. When this was starting up, they made all LPNs and RNs who don’t work in acute care take an online learning course to learn the hospital portion of our EMR and we were on stand-by to be called up to an acute care setting, in theory to let us work the med-surg floors so those nurses could work with COVID pts. I was “tier 5” and they got to tier 3 before they stopped reassigning people. One of the CMAs I work with was called up and worked in ICU with COVID+ pts as a CNA though. 

bestallaround

bestallaround, ADN, CNA, LPN, RN

Specializes in Telemetry/Stepdown, Government Nursing. Has 23 years experience. 71 Posts

When all this started, the ER was not testing patients for COVID. They would send the patient up to our tele/step down unit and the next day, the attending would order the test. So we'd come in the next day and our patient that we had not worn full PPE on would be on the COVID unit. Now our COVID unit is full, usually always is, and we have all their over flow positive patients. Our floor was the first to have the staff outbreak, then med surg, now it's slowly making its way through ICU. So far, none of the nurses on the COVID unit have been sick. They have air purifiers in every room, at the nurses station, and break room. All their patient rooms have big windows so they can look in, and they have bedside monitors that can be watched at the nurses station. The ICU has had multiple COVID patients code on them recently. In such a small hospital, their hands are tied on where to assign patients. 

Newgurl17

Newgurl17, CNA, LPN

Specializes in LTC. Has 5 years experience. 151 Posts

I think the obvious answer to the title of this post would personally be no... That's how outbreaks start! 

NurseBlaq

1,756 Posts

I know nurses who won't get tested because they're afraid of missing time from work and they're the sole breadwinner in their homes due to layoffs. Even worse, the employers don't push them to get tested because they see it as not having to replace that nurse while they're off. The only time it seems to be an issue is when the nurse is symptomatic and sick themselves. IMO it's setting a bad precedent because we're not superhuman and we have our own health and families to protect as well. If we're all sick, who's going to take care of the patients?