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Infected staff

Posted

I tried doing a poll, but had some technical difficulty.

At my hospital, if you are infected with Covid 19, it is treated same as an appy, or a car accident. They have no responsibility, and how you fare depends on your PTO bank, insurance plan, etc..

I am trying to find both the norm, and the range of responses from various hospitals.

So- how is your employer treating infected staff?

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

Our only infected staff member (not really staff, has privileges but not actually employed by facility) so far is patient zero- the first one to test positive in our entire county. Picked it up while traveling to another state. There were multiple staff members who, while not being tested as they are not having symptoms, were sent home for 2 weeks to self isolate. They are being paid for these 2 weeks and not having to use vacation time.

There are some staff who are refusing to come to work in this situation. At this time, they are home either using vacation time or without pay. These staff did not come into contact with the infected person and started refusing to work prior to any patients being admitted. I'm honestly surprised they're being allowed to do this.

Other staff simply have no childcare. With schools and day cares closing, they just don't have anyone to cover them as their backups have closed as well. They are being allowed time off from vacation time, and after they've used a week of vacation time are being permitted to dip into extended illness time despite not being ill. The facility is also working with places to get childcare provided solely for healthcare and other essential staff.

For those who are self-isolating for an exposure that occurred outside of work, have childcare issues, have been told by their own healthcare provided that due to their risk status need to be removed from patient care, and other reasons with documented justification, they are also being allowed to have their vacation time go negative (the facility will pay them as though they are using it after they have none left). When they return to work and begin accruing vacation time again, they will have to pay back the time (not the money) the facility advanced them.

adventure_rn, BSN

Specializes in NICU, PICU.

11 hours ago, hherrn said:

At my hospital, if you are infected with Covid 19, it is treated same as an appy, or a car accident. They have no responsibility, and how you fare depends on your PTO bank, insurance plan, etc..

Earlier in the pandemic, some hospitals were offering paid leave (not PTO use) to nurses who were clearly infected at work.

Now that it's in the community, there's no way to prove they were infected at work (as opposed to standing in line at Costco), so employers don't want to take responsibility. It seems like many are just requiring nurses to use their regular PTO/sick leave (just like you would if you got the flu, even if you got it at work).

@Rose_Queen, I'm pretty astonished by those policies, especially the 'negative vacation time' one. It seems like people could abuse the system by getting an advance now and then quitting once this whole mess dies down. I wonder if the hospital would try to sue them if they don't pay back the vacation hours they were given.

Our union negotiated 80 extra hours of sick time to be used only if we are required to be sent home on quarantine but are not sick. If we test positive we have to use our regular PTO because there is no way to prove we got it at work. We are currently dealing with a positive co-worker who was asymptomatic at work and inadvertently exposed pretty much all of us. If they quarantine everyone the entire department will have to shut down which is not possible. One nurse has decided to stay home because she was "exposed" but refuses to get swabbed and is asymptomatic. The rest of us are at work wearing masks and waiting. They will swab us and send us home if we start showing symptoms. Needless to say we are pretty cheesed off at our co-worker who is getting a self-imposed 2 week vacation. But Karma can be a bad thing. We have a handful of other nurses who are making ridiculous demands because of their "special circumstances". We ALL have circumstances. I expect we'll have a "Lord of the Flies" situation if this continues.

19 hours ago, hherrn said:

I tried doing a poll, but had some technical difficulty.

At my hospital, if you are infected with Covid 19, it is treated same as an appy, or a car accident. They have no responsibility, and how you fare depends on your PTO bank, insurance plan, etc..

I am trying to find both the norm, and the range of responses from various hospitals.

So- how is your employer treating infected staff?

Thank you for your post! It's good to see someone verbalizing the ongoing & inexcusable lack of supplies that medical personnel need right now!

8 hours ago, Wuzzie said:

Our union negotiated 80 extra hours of sick time to be used only if we are required to be sent home on quarantine but are not sick. If we test positive we have to use our regular PTO because there is no way to prove we got it at work. We are currently dealing with a positive co-worker who was asymptomatic at work and inadvertently exposed pretty much all of us. If they quarantine everyone the entire department will have to shut down which is not possible. One nurse has decided to stay home because she was "exposed" but refuses to get swabbed and is asymptomatic. The rest of us are at work wearing masks and waiting. They will swab us and send us home if we start showing symptoms. Needless to say we are pretty cheesed off at our co-worker who is getting a self-imposed 2 week vacation. But Karma can be a bad thing. We have a handful of other nurses who are making ridiculous demands because of their "special circumstances". We ALL have circumstances. I expect we'll have a "Lord of the Flies" situation if this continues.

Seems like hospitals are always making demands that nurses show up no matter what and show their lack of appreciation by making them pay for trying to save their own lives!

JohnyPapr

Specializes in Med Surg. Has 8 years experience.

Our union negotiated 120 hrs of Covid PTO that doesn't count against our sick hours or PTO if we get infected and have to self quarantine.

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

22 hours ago, Rose_Queen said:

Our only infected staff member (not really staff, has privileges but not actually employed by facility) so far is patient zero- the first one to test positive in our entire county. Picked it up while traveling to another state. There were multiple staff members who, while not being tested as they are not having symptoms, were sent home for 2 weeks to self isolate. They are being paid for these 2 weeks and not having to use vacation time.

There are some staff who are refusing to come to work in this situation. At this time, they are home either using vacation time or without pay. These staff did not come into contact with the infected person and started refusing to work prior to any patients being admitted. I'm honestly surprised they're being allowed to do this.

Other staff simply have no childcare. With schools and day cares closing, they just don't have anyone to cover them as their backups have closed as well. They are being allowed time off from vacation time, and after they've used a week of vacation time are being permitted to dip into extended illness time despite not being ill. The facility is also working with places to get childcare provided solely for healthcare and other essential staff.

For those who are self-isolating for an exposure that occurred outside of work, have childcare issues, have been told by their own healthcare provided that due to their risk status need to be removed from patient care, and other reasons with documented justification, they are also being allowed to have their vacation time go negative (the facility will pay them as though they are using it after they have none left). When they return to work and begin accruing vacation time again, they will have to pay back the time (not the money) the facility advanced them.

That is the palace of hospitals WOW!

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

11 hours ago, adventure_rn said:

Earlier in the pandemic, some hospitals were offering paid leave (not PTO use) to nurses who were clearly infected at work.

Now that it's in the community, there's no way to prove they were infected at work (as opposed to standing in line at Costco), so employers don't want to take responsibility. It seems like many are just requiring nurses to use their regular PTO/sick leave (just like you would if you got the flu, even if you got it at work).

@Rose_Queen, I'm pretty astonished by those policies, especially the 'negative vacation time' one. It seems like people could abuse the system by getting an advance now and then quitting once this whole mess dies down. I wonder if the hospital would try to sue them if they don't pay back the vacation hours they were given.

I think negative vacation time is fair I think hospitals are avoiding larger lawsuits by doing this, hospitals can maybe put ineligible to rehire if nurse quits. which can damage a nurse ability to find new work, I think it is a wonderful change that a hospital is doing this for their nurses:)

I’m hoping to see a mass exodus from the medical and nursing fields after this. Life is too short to work in healthcare.

ML1376

Specializes in ICU. Has 4 years experience.

"Needless to say we are pretty cheesed off at our co-worker who is getting a self-imposed 2 week vacation. But Karma can be a bad thing. We have a handful of other nurses who are making ridiculous demands because of their "special circumstances". We ALL have circumstances. I expect we'll have a "Lord of the Flies" situation if this continues."

Easy on the judgement and retribution talk. Yes we ALL have circumstances.. some more legitimate than others. I don't know hers, but it's that kind of "Lord of the Flies" environment that is unnecessary and makes it bad for everyone.. co-workers, management, etc. If you can work in this and are not part of an at risk group, great. Others aren't able to, be it for physical or psychological reasons. This is an unprecedented crisis (that shouldn't be nearly this bad if pre-planning and current handling weren't done in such an asinine manner). We'll get through it and Karma aside, hopefully learn valuable lessons as a result.

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

On 3/29/2020 at 5:12 PM, DeeAngel said:

I’m hoping to see a mass exodus from the medical and nursing fields after this. Life is too short to work in healthcare.

LOL , well hopefully some stay 😛 and they get treated better, I was thinking this crisis may make more HCW seek non bedside options

GSDlvrRN, BSN

Specializes in Telemetry. Has 4 years experience.

On 3/26/2020 at 6:22 AM, Wuzzie said:

Our union negotiated 80 extra hours of sick time to be used only if we are required to be sent home on quarantine but are not sick. If we test positive we have to use our regular PTO because there is no way to prove we got it at work. We are currently dealing with a positive co-worker who was asymptomatic at work and inadvertently exposed pretty much all of us. If they quarantine everyone the entire department will have to shut down which is not possible. One nurse has decided to stay home because she was "exposed" but refuses to get swabbed and is asymptomatic. The rest of us are at work wearing masks and waiting. They will swab us and send us home if we start showing symptoms. Needless to say we are pretty cheesed off at our co-worker who is getting a self-imposed 2 week vacation. But Karma can be a bad thing. We have a handful of other nurses who are making ridiculous demands because of their "special circumstances". We ALL have circumstances. I expect we'll have a "Lord of the Flies" situation if this continues.

Yes! Some of the “special circumstances” I am hearing of include having children, having a family (Don’t we all?) having diabetes, having asthma, their age, or being scared. My facility is requiring people to be cleared by HR to allow them to not come to work or not be floated to the respiratory care unit ( our r/o COVID unit, or positive for COVID unit). Individuals have been cleared for not passing the fit test for any style N95 (and there are no more PAPRs), or having a condition that compromises the immune system.

On 3/26/2020 at 8:17 PM, Nurselexii said:

I think negative vacation time is fair I think hospitals are avoiding larger lawsuits by doing this, hospitals can maybe put ineligible to rehire if nurse quits. which can damage a nurse ability to find new work, I think it is a wonderful change that a hospital is doing this for their nurses:)

I strongly disagree that this is fair. For starters, Covid ill workers in many industries other than nursing are getting paid when they are sick, and even in nursing there are huge discrepancies.

People need to have a good understanding of what earned time/PTO, etc. really is. It is a form of compensation, very much like money. If the hospital gave you this compensation in the form of cash, and you banked it, you could just pay yourself when you don't work. But, most employers know people don't have that kind of discipline, so they do an enforced savings, and call it PTO, doll it out when you don't work so you get a steady check.

We earn it, bank it, and spend it, much like money. And now, they are willing to loan it out to Covid positive nurses working in an environment with poor preparation, minimal training and wholly inadequate PPE. This falls well below the standards of millions of workers, the overwhelming majority of whom are far more likely to have community exposure than work exposure.

And, across the board, in any hospital in which nurses have leverage in the form of unions, they receive appropriate benefits.

The argument that a nurse "could have picked it up in the community" holds no water. For the most part, nurses have a good understanding of pathogen transmission, and are paranoid about Covid. When we do interact in the community, we are amongst the safest out there. Watch how the general public uses PPE next time you are out. Compare that risk level to working in an environment in which distancing is physically possible, and we are, without any doubt, exposed to asymptomatic carriers who are not tested to to inadequate supplies.

So yes, a nurse could contract Covid outside of the hospital. Much like a smoker could develop lung cancer from unknown radon exposure or a genetic mutation. The fact that any given smoke could cancer unrelated to smoking has not absolved the legal responsibility of tobacco companies.

Anybody who thinks there is anything fair about forcing covid positive nurses to use their own resources when sick, just like a appendicitis or other illness, needs to look at how walmart employees are treated.

Quote

If your store, club, office or distribution center is part of a mandated quarantine or if you’re required to quarantine by a government agency or by Walmart, you will receive up to two weeks of pay, and absences during the time you are out will not count against attendance. We’ve chosen two weeks because it matches the recommended time for quarantines related to this virus.

Should an associate have a confirmed case of the virus, they’ll receive up to two weeks of pay. If they’re not able to return to work after that time, additional pay replacement may be provided for up to 26 weeks for both full-time and part-time hourly associates.

https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/03/10/new-covid-19-policy-to-support-the-health-of-our-associates

Kudos to Walmart for doing the right thing. Those workers deserve the benefits Walmart gives them, and I appreciate them keeping us supplied. In what world is it fair that even with known work related exposure, we don't merit the benefits afforded a fork lift operator?

Edited by hherrn

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

25 minutes ago, hherrn said:

I strongly disagree that this is fair. For starters, Covid ill workers in many industries other than nursing are getting paid when they are sick, and even in nursing there are huge discrepancies.

People need to have a good understanding of what earned time/PTO, etc. really is. It is a form of compensation, very much like money. If the hospital gave you this compensation in the form of cash, and you banked it, you could just pay yourself when you don't work. But, most employers know people don't have that kind of discipline, so they do an enforced savings, and call it PTO, doll it out when you don't work so you get a steady check.

We earn it, bank it, and spend it, much like money. And now, they are willing to loan it out to Covid positive nurses working in an environment with poor preparation, minimal training and wholly inadequate PPE. This falls well below the standards of millions of workers, the overwhelming majority of whom are far more likely to have community exposure than work exposure.

And, across the board, in any hospital in which nurses have leverage in the form of unions, they receive appropriate benefits.

The argument that a nurse "could have picked it up in the community" holds no water. For the most part, nurses have a good understanding of pathogen transmission, and are paranoid about Covid. When we do interact in the community, we are amongst the safest out there. Watch how the general public uses PPE next time you are out. Compare that risk level to working in an environment in which distancing is physically possible, and we are, without any doubt, exposed to asymptomatic carriers who are not tested to to inadequate supplies.

So yes, a nurse could contract Covid outside of the hospital. Much like a smoker could develop lung cancer from unknown radon exposure or a genetic mutation. The fact that any given smoke could cancer unrelated to smoking has not absolved the legal responsibility of tobacco companies.

Anybody who thinks there is anything fair about forcing covid positive nurses to use their own resources when sick, just like a appendicitis or other illness, needs to look at how walmart employees are treated.

https://corporate.walmart.com/newsroom/2020/03/10/new-covid-19-policy-to-support-the-health-of-our-associates

Kudos to Walmart for doing the right thing. Those workers deserve the benefits Walmart gives them, and I appreciate them keeping us supplied. In what world is it fair that even with known work related exposure, we don't merit the benefits afforded a fork lift operator?

When I read the original post on vacation time, I took it to mean if you are ill or exposed, you do not have to use your PTO, they will give you two weeks off time (paid) but if you need more or at risk you can use this option instead of fmla.there is another poster who said her hospital is making nurses who have been exposed use their PTO, and if their test is negative they get marked absent (if no pto) get an occurrence and have to make up their weekend. So I thought a hospital being allowed to take 3 months plus off and just work it back (negative vacation time) was nice 🙂

Sorry- maybe I wasn't clear.

To be clear, even when it clearly work related, and you test positive, many hospitals are not treating it as work related. As with any non-work related illness, how you fare will depend on how you prepared. What insurance, how much money in the bank, how much PTO in the bank, etc.

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

8 minutes ago, hherrn said:

Sorry- maybe I wasn't clear.

To be clear, even when it clearly work related, and you test positive, many hospitals are not treating it as work related. As with any non-work related illness, how you fare will depend on how you prepared. What insurance, how much money in the bank, how much PTO in the bank, etc.

No worries:) oh it should definitely be treated as work related

Nurselexii

Specializes in Non judgmental advisor.

8 minutes ago, hherrn said:

Sorry- maybe I wasn't clear.

To be clear, even when it clearly work related, and you test positive, many hospitals are not treating it as work related. As with any non-work related illness, how you fare will depend on how you prepared. What insurance, how much money in the bank, how much PTO in the bank, etc.

No worries:) oh it should definitely be treated as work related