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Is it reasonable for Nurses to be fired who "ran away" from work during the pandemic?

Updated | Posted

Specializes in ACE.

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At our home we currently have 0 COVID cases. But back last Spring, we had lots of cases among staff and residents, lots were dying on oxygen, hypodermoclysis, staffing shortages pretty much a headache all around. I remember working mostly doubles and 2 triple shifts.

Lots of staff who were never COVID positive went on a LOA these were full time staff they were gone for 2-5 months, and then came back. Staff who have been their for years and the ones who filled those spots were the new staff. When the old staff came back from their LOA the new staff either became casual, part -time or on - call.

I personally do not think its fair. You cannot just go "LOA" during a pandemic. One staff said they were going for "personal" reasons which I think was a load of bull *** because she worked short for 1 day, called in sick the next, and then the next day after that she had her LOA letter at the Director of Care desk.

One staff said, "I had pneumonia as I was coughing".  I said so how come you worked during a respiratory outbreak, an enteric outbreak, and MRSA outbreak, but when COVID comes you go on LOA? To me it makes no sense. And this person was gone for 4 months which makes no sense. After 4 months the outbreak at our home was already controlled. She had no response. 

I myself had Covid 19 back in April. I isolated for 14 days plus 2 to be safe, then went back to work in May. I have asthma but always have a puffer. I'm always involved in outbreaks, I feel like its part of the job. I mean as long as they have PPE and what not, and the workplace was offering a hotel at no cost.

Even the office job nurses in administration, were called to work in the front lines and they said they did not want too. To me its sounds like patient abandonment. If my grandparents were in a nursing home I would want someone taking care of them 24/hours making sure they are safe and cared for. 

You can blame management but management has no control of people disappearing.

The new staff were mad that they lost their positions due to seniority as they were the ones who worked short long hours while the full time staff just disappeared.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

Get the necessary qualifications and apply for a management position. Until then, it's not up to you to manage. Some of the allowances made might even be legally required.

EDNURSE20, BSN

Specializes in ED, med-surg, peri op. Has 4 years experience.

I don’t see what the issue is.

Staff were approve to take leave during covid, for reasons you probably are unaware of. Now things are settled they are back.

New Staff were employed to cover during covid. No knew how long that would last, or there jobs. I’m sure they would of been aware of this when they started. Unless they were offered a permanent full time contract, which I’m sure they weren’t. 

it comes off as someone complaining because they had to work during the outbreak, and so everyone else should have to. Staffing has nothing to do with you, and what you think is fair, get over it!

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 2 years experience.

It isn’t patient abandonment if the admin nurses did not accept a patient assignment. I know times are tough and as an ICU nurse I’m tired and appreciate those jumping in, but that isn’t my call and if someone doesn’t want to jump in the trenches and they weren’t hired to do so, I wouldn’t force them. Also you don’t know the details of these nurses’ leave, it’s not fair to say that someone can’t take leave if they need to just because the world is on fire. What if you hurt your back, or you child was very sick, or you had an episode of debilitating depression and needed a couple months off? Wouldn’t you be upset if someone came over and told you your leave was a bunch of BS, especially if they demanded to know the story? People don’t stop going through hard times just because there’s a pandemic. 

TheMoonisMyLantern, ADN, LPN, RN

Specializes in Mental health, substance abuse, geriatrics, PCU. Has 14 years experience.

I don't judge those who decided not to work during the pandemic, it's their choice, most did so to protect themselves or their families and I don't blame them. It does however make it harder on those of us left behind. At my facility we're in our second outbreak and it's hell right now, we have employees refusing to work on the COVID unit and I admit, it's frustrating to have even less help taking care of people that are dying left and right, but what can you do? Taking out our frustrations on each other isn't going to be helpful right now because everyone is stressed.

Emergent, RN

Has 28 years experience.

I agree, it sucks. You have every right to feel aggravated, I would feel the same. 

DK123

Specializes in ACE.

7 hours ago, 0.9%NormalSarah said:

It isn’t patient abandonment if the admin nurses did not accept a patient assignment. I know times are tough and as an ICU nurse I’m tired and appreciate those jumping in, but that isn’t my call and if someone doesn’t want to jump in the trenches and they weren’t hired to do so, I wouldn’t force them. Also you don’t know the details of these nurses’ leave, it’s not fair to say that someone can’t take leave if they need to just because the world is on fire. What if you hurt your back, or you child was very sick, or you had an episode of debilitating depression and needed a couple months off? Wouldn’t you be upset if someone came over and told you your leave was a bunch of BS, especially if they demanded to know the story? People don’t stop going through hard times just because there’s a pandemic. 

Of course. But lots of these frontline workers went LOA during the worse time. When the cases started going up in our home the workers kept calling in "sick" and eventually went on LOA>

6 hours ago, TheMoonisMyLantern said:

I don't judge those who decided not to work during the pandemic, it's their choice, most did so to protect themselves or their families and I don't blame them. It does however make it harder on those of us left behind. At my facility we're in our second outbreak and it's hell right now, we have employees refusing to work on the COVID unit and I admit, it's frustrating to have even less help taking care of people that are dying left and right, but what can you do? Taking out our frustrations on each other isn't going to be helpful right now because everyone is stressed.

so why would they work during a regular outbreak then? if thats the case then they should go LOA every Winter/Spring when there is a flue outbreak.

Davey Do

Specializes in around 25 years psych, 10 years medical. Has 42 years experience.

9 hours ago, DribbleKing97 said:

I personally do not think its fair. You cannot just go "LOA" during a pandemic.

I agree with you, DribbleKing.

That's why, last Spring, I set myself up to get fired.

I really showed them!

The employees chose to go on leave.  The employer chose to allow them to do so.  The replacement workers chose to take a job with no promised longevity.  Now the employer chooses to allow those who left to return unscathed.  If you are offended, it is your choice to move on to another employer, perhaps one who did not follow such policies that you find to be unfair.  Getting bent over the behavior of management or those who benefit from that behavior is a sure fire way to be miserable most of the time.  Not worth it.

10 hours ago, DribbleKing97 said:

you can blame management but management has no control of people dissappearing.

the new staff were mad that they lost their positions due to seniority as they were the ones who worked short long hours while the full time staff just disappeared.

Your beef is with management. They might not have control over people disappearing (arguably), but they do have control over their own policies and how evenly they implement them.

It seems most reasonable to not be mad at one's peers for whatever decisions they made while management was flirting with the idea of community-sewn masks and bandanas for our protection after having abdicated their responsibility to be prepared for even a relatively small disaster. You know?

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 2 years experience.

1 hour ago, DribbleKing97 said:

Of course. But lots of these frontline workers went LOA during the worse time. When the cases started going up in our home the workers kept calling in "sick" and eventually went on LOA>

so why would they work during a regular outbreak then? if thats the case then they should go LOA every Winter/Spring when there is a flue outbreak.

But you’re missing my point, maybe they had a good reason to be on LOA, and obviously they aren’t close enough with you to openly tell you why. Don’t you think it’s a little unfair to judge when you don’t even know the reason? Also the law recognizes certain situations where employers must allow leave and retain their job, so you just need to accept you can’t be the leave police when you don’t know the full story. 

londonflo

Specializes in oncology. Has 44 years experience.

This topic is something I wondered about. Would quitting a job during Covid affect future hirings? With the March 2020 seared in our memory, I wondered if those who notes their date as a "quitting date" will get readily hired.

Rose_Queen, BSN, MSN, RN

Specializes in OR, education. Has 16 years experience.

11 hours ago, DribbleKing97 said:

You cannot just go "LOA" during a pandemic.

Correct. In order to go on a leave of absence without quitting, one must have management approval. If these staff had management approval, which appears to be evidenced by the fact that they still have jobs, you have nothing to hold against the staff themselves. You also have no idea what went on behind closed doors and are not privy to private conversations held between the employee and management. It may have even been decided that the LOA was to the benefit of all. I had a teammate who was actually encouraged to take a LOA during the beginning of the COVID crisis because she would be having constant panic attacks, disappear when we were needed  to assist with the donning and doffing that became part of the role of our little education team in the OR setting where airborne isolation until that point was maybe a once or twice a year deal, and was dragging down the morale of the team. Having said person out of the way was an improvement even though my remaining partner and I had to take up the slack. 

gingerale.emergency, LVN

Specializes in Geriatric Psych, Palliative Care, LTC. Has 4 years experience.

I understand your frustration with working doubles / triples / short staffed. Going through that at my facility right now. 
However, I am one of the nurses who “ran away” at the start of the pandemic- I had to go on a LOA due to a severe decline in my mental health and was unable to work. Was off for a month to get better and now I’m back at work better than ever. 
I am a very private person who doesn’t share stuff like that , (except my “work wife” ahaha) so yeaa there’s a few people I work with that have been a bit salty.. but I probably wouldn’t be around right now if I didn’t get the help I needed. Don’t judge before you know someones story. 

JadedCPN, BSN, RN

Specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU. Has 15 years experience.

This is once again none of your business and just not worth your energy. This is a reoccurring theme with your posts, I think you'd be a lot happier if you learned to just let things go that shouldn't occupy your brain space. 

I get the impression that the OP has too much time on his hands.

Firemky

Specializes in ARNP, Family, Public Health/Tropical Medicine. Has 33 years experience.

I was informed of that years ago. AIDS pandemic, AIDS unit, grossly understaffed. I stuck it out, learned to ask for help from my peers. So, unless you’re pregnant, have crappy immune system, or resp . Disorder. I think they can.

Sour Lemon

Has 9 years experience.

1 hour ago, caliotter3 said:

I get the impression that the OP has too much time on his hands.

Maybe ...but I remember one frequent topic-starter who had an "arrangement" to promote the site. I forget the exact words she used, and I forget her name altogether. Same sorts of threads, though. It does sometimes make me wonder. 🤔