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

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Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 17 years experience.

I seriously considered asking for an unpaid LOA when things started heating up.  I knew I'd be able to afford it and I really debated if it was worth it to take the chance to continue working, especially with some PPE shortages.  Money isn't everything, especially if I can't live to enjoy it.  Ultimately I decided to stay, because I realized how dumb I'd feel if I left and then picked up covid regardless.  A few days later after I dismissed the thought I came down with symptoms, so at the time I was considering leaving I was asymptomatic with an infection brewing.  I was concerned for my health, but if I had a family to infect I'd also be a nervous wreck worrying about them.  I completely understand if some people took LOAs.  That being said, we're not out of the woods yet.  If someone resigned somewhere, I wouldn't hire them until the pandemic comes to a close as they might just leave when things worsen again.    

subee, MSN, CRNA

4,410 Posts

Specializes in CRNA, Finally retired. Has 51 years experience.

For the OP:  If they got paid while LOA, that would be most annoying but I'm assuming that they didn't get paid, so they actually took a sizable financial loss.  Yes, it's awful to have to assume their work but it is just the way of the world....especially now since hospitals can not just bring people in from another state where Covid is rarer occurrence.   Rare nowhere:)

Specializes in ER, Pre-Op, PACU.

You never know what’s going on in someone’s life. There are reasonable reasons for taking a leave of absence. Some nurses do get covid and subsequent pneumonia and need time off to recover. Some have a family member recovering from cancer surgery and need to support them during recovery. Don’t judge someone and try to put yourself in their shoes. I do know it’s not been easy to work as a nurse during the pandemic. I am relieved to still have a job to pay bills.

It is frustrating to feel like part of the team has abandoned you but again you never know what’s going on in their lives. I know I couldn’t afford to go without a paycheck so either the nurses are in a better place financially or have some severe issues going on. Either way though - I don’t have the right to judge. These are hard times and it’s hard knowing what to do.

Specializes in Jack of all trades, master of...a few ;). Has 26 years experience.

There's a difference between taking off a reasonable amount of time for a legitimate reason then getting right back to it, and intentionally ducking out of a crisis situation and leaving your peers to take it on alone...regardless of the excuses. There are always those nurses who, I suppose, might really shine behind a desk, but wouldn't come work bedside care if every other nurse in the building spontaneously combusted. Apparently the service they do provide must somehow be stellar because they continue to be allowed to do that. And even though it might be completely understandable that some decided that they weren't going to run themselves ragged and/or possibly put themselves at risk for these facilities that notoriously treat nurses like they're expendable, I cant help but wonder if they're perpetuating that very problem! The anger the OP feels is completely fair, no matter how you try to explain it away (or blow it off) they should have had more care and respect for their fellow nurses than that. Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe these companies get away with treating nurses like crap because nurses treat each other like crap. Why should they try to make collective improvements to their nurses working conditions? There's always another nurse around that's willing to let the other ones fall on their face to serve themselves, until the day THEY decide they want more..to which yet another nurse comes along

toomuchbaloney

9,748 Posts

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 44 years experience.

Coronavirus is driving these nurses to quit: ‘I realized my voice was too small to fix things’

Quote

“It was not an easy decision to leave after 15 years of identifying as an ICU nurse,” she said. “I’ve advocated for patients to both physicians and hospital administration for 15 years. I’ve been active in process movements and trying to fix things. I realized that system is so beyond broken, and that after several mergers, working for a now-huge corporation, there was nothing I could do to fix it and offer my patients the best care.”

 

JKL33

6,465 Posts

9 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

And even though it might be completely understandable that some decided that they weren't going to run themselves ragged and/or possibly put themselves at risk for these facilities that notoriously treat nurses like they're expendable, I cant help but wonder if they're perpetuating that very problem!

That might have been a reasonable thing to ponder if it weren't for the last 10 years of healthcare corporations more and more aggressively declaring to anyone of any experience or expertise: "There's the door."

So, no. My opinion is that they are screwed now because of their own program that they have been working on for a very long time. They not only made this bed, they took the time to select the materials and then built it themselves, too. This has been a long-term project of out with the old and in with the new. Out with experience and in with novice. Out with loyalty and in with people who are indebted (through contracts, etc) so that the employer doesn't have to worry so much about developing a relationship involving loyalty.

 

9 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

Has it ever occurred to anyone that maybe these companies get away with treating nurses like crap because nurses treat each other like crap.

Not really, and not in the way you are discussing at the staff level. From my vantage point this definitely did not come from the bottom up. I think it's silly to even say that. Now you're blaming the people with the least amount of power in all of this. People get away with treating others terribly if they are devoid of ethics and have the means and power to do so in situations where others aren't in a good position to hold them accountable--that's how that works. No billion dollar corporations do not treat people poorly because of the petty things you are suggesting; they do it because they can and it serves their purposes.

9 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

Why should they try to make collective improvements to their nurses working conditions?

Because that would be great and amazing for PATIENTS???  Those people for whom they purport to be in the business of caring??? More patients would get better care? Fewer patients would get worse care?

That's why.

For starters.

I won't even bother with the part about how nurses are human beings.

 

9 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

There's always another nurse around that's willing to let the other ones fall on their face to serve themselves, until the day THEY decide they want more..

Is your example of letting others fall on their face this thing about deciding whether or not one is able to work in a pandemic? Before I reply I would like to clarify what you mean with this statement and how it ties in to your theory about why billion dollar corporations treat workers poorly.

 

Jml1986, ADN

22 Posts

Don’t waste your time or energy stewing over this situation. It’s only going to distract you and undermine your unit. You need to mind your own house and not what other people are doing. You don’t know what anyone’s personal situation is so you cannot caste judgment on them. As far as management, you’re not a manager and while we always have thoughts about what they are doing “wrong” it’s not in your wheelhouse. Whatever transpired between nurses taking leave and management is their business. 
 

You seem a lot like me; someone who goes to work, does their job and avoids personal entanglements with co workers. Trust me, I used to be like you, watching what everyone isn’t doing and everything I was doing, and keeping score. It took me a long time and lots of hard lessons to let that s*** go; life is too short. Do your job, help your teammates and don’t judge them; it’s ultimately going to bit you in the a**. 

Specializes in Jack of all trades, master of...a few ;). Has 26 years experience.

Just to be clear right off, I NEVER said that nurses were responsible for “starting” the problems. I understand that there's a completely separate conversation that can be had regarding the multitudes of reasons big healthcare outfits might treat their nurses poorly and get by with it, but that wasn't the point I was getting at. In fact since management is simply honoring the conditions of a leave of absence there's not a whole lot I can say about them. My complaint is on the nurses. The simple truth is if, for example, 20 nurses at 1 facility..who, prior to covid, worked consistently year after year...through life's day to day difficulties...then suddenly needed to take extended leave smack in the middle of chaos.. its HIGHLY unlikely that they ALL did so for legitimate reasons! Meaning that many of them did it for selfish reasons, I'm not OK with that, and personally I don't agree with ignoring it! I wouldn't do that to the other nurses, and I find it very concerning that there are so many that will. Can we not depend on or trust each other at all anymore?? This is something that's been seen all over, exposing those who weren't willing to get their hands dirty or even move out of their comfort zone in order to help other nurses, instead leaving them even more vulnerable. We can pretend they all had good cause but we know its not reality, and we can write it off as something beyond our control and therefore not fixable but if we can't encourage a healthy respect for each other it's going to be pretty impossible to demand that respect from those above us. When there's a significant number of nurses displaying a pretty blatant lack of professional courtesy toward their peers it can absolutely make a difference in the treatment we receive from those around us, they'll follow suit, and yes that goes for supervisors on up. Even large companies are able keep an eye on staffing trends and I don't think its silly to believe that they know its a lot easier to intimidate and dump on your nurses one at a time, than it is to dump on nurses standing in support of each other, as a united front. I admit my complaint comes with no solution, maybe there really isn't one, but I find that hard to believe. I think more nurses should speak up to those who are consistently not pulling their weight rather than just ignoring it or letting it go. 

Jml1986, ADN

22 Posts

2 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

Meaning that many of them did it for selfish reasons, I'm not OK with that, and personally I don't agree with ignoring it! I wouldn't do that to the other nurses, and I find it very concerning that there are so many that will. Can we not depend on or trust each other at all anymore

One of my co worker told me, at the height of the pandemic: “You need to do what is right for YOU and YOUR FAMILY; look out for yourself.” That being said, Covid upped the ante; everyone is entitled to make their own choices. I will never shame those who do not throw themselves on the sacrificial alter.  

JKL33

6,465 Posts

3 hours ago, mom_e_bizcut said:

The simple truth is if, for example, 20 nurses at 1 facility..who, prior to covid, worked consistently year after year...through life's day to day difficulties...then suddenly needed to take extended leave smack in the middle of chaos..

Maybe after working faithfully year after year through life's day-to-day difficulties they were pissed that their employer had made no provisions for anything like this situation (even remotely like it AT ALL) and so immediately started spiting and begrudging their loyal employees for wanting a simple respirator mask and just a small effort towards straightforward and truthful information for once....(?)

Okay, in reality I don't know what went on at your place or if anything like that did. I'm not making excuses--I just, in all kindness/collegiality, sincerely disagree with your train of thought, here. If nurses were running the show in some kind of nurse-partnership and truly making decisions together and were responsible for all of this I would be more likely to agree with you that if one is a "partner" and has that kind of skin in the game whether good times or bad then yes they need to step up when times are bad. As it is, there is nothing like that going on and nurses are employees who work with the resources the employer allows them to have and experience the treatment the employer deems appropriate. Dealing with employee problems is the business of the employer and if they don't like what they are dealing with they have the most power of anyone to change it.

My other contention is that if loyalty in good times or bad is what employers most wanted, they have experienced that. I've seen it with my own eyes and have been a very loyal employee myself. My perspective is that employers (especially corporations) did not want that kind of relationship; it poses various problems for them. They sure seem to prefer easy-come, easy-go.  And, well, if that's the way they want it then what can one say? They won't be the only ones who will get to benefit from the 'easy-go' part--employees will certainly do the same when they believe it serves their purposes.

Is it okay for corporations to lay off, furlough and terminate nurses when they experience hard times or simply have a new vision for their business? Is that okay? Or are they expected to maintain loyalty to the people who want to keep working there?

I think your position poses a double-standard in various ways.

The bottom line is that just due to things I have directly witnessed in recent years I will never feel bad for corporate healthcare and I will also not begrudge any nurse who is fed up with the whole thing.

nursetim, NP

493 Posts

Specializes in ER, HH, CTICU, corrections, cardiology, hospice. Has 21 years experience.

I want to jump into the ICU, but I’ve been told I am over/under qualified. I’m an adult NP, and the last time I was in the ICU was 14 years ago.

PatMac10,RN, RN

1 Article; 1,164 Posts

Specializes in Nursing Education, CVICU, Float Pool. Has 10 years experience.

It seems like you are making a lot of assumptions and assuming to understand folks situations that may have informed their LOA. I notice you also use quotations when am saying called on “sick” and that leads me to believe you already make assumptions about your coworkers. I don’t really see what their Leave of Absence has to do with you personally. If you feel your management is allowing things to happen that aren’t fair to you.., why not speak with them.. or pursue work elsewhere, as possible.. 

Don’t see why folks LOA is any of your business. They handled their business and got approved for LOA.. staffing the unit during that is not their responsibility.