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

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by Convoy2022_TrumpSupporter Convoy2022_TrumpSupporter Member Nurse

Specializes in ACE.

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brandy1017

brandy1017, ASN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care. 2,718 Posts

On 1/12/2021 at 8:58 AM, DK123 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.

You don't know the reasons for their approved LOA.  If they were sick before than most likely they had health problems related to Corona. 

I don't know the situation where you work, but many places including mine didn't have adequate PPE and nurses were put in danger because of that!  At my workplace many have gotten Corona since this started and a couple have been hospitalized.  But hundreds of healthcare workers have died since this started mostly due to the lack of PPE! 

Sadly I just read an RT died from Corona after working tons of OT to help out.  She was high risk due to several health problems.   She left behind her husband, children and grandchildren, but she was very dedicated and went above and beyond when her employer would call she would pick up extra hours.  I wonder if she had cut back her hours if she would still be alive since they believe total virus load exposure determines your risk of Corona.

We are at risk, but some of us are at high risk for a bad outcome and have to make the decision whether to continue working or not.  I don't think there is any shame in putting yourself and your family first, especially when dealing with unsafe staffing and lack of PPE!

Edited by brandy1017

MD married to RN

MD married to RN

Specializes in EM. Has 29 years experience. 32 Posts

Sorry if off topic. I am an EM physician and have deep respect for all the nurses who continue to show up day after day, shift after shift, short staffed, PPE limited, admin challenged, and continue to grind for the good of us all. Good bless you.

PatMac10,RN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Education, CVICU, Float Pool. Has 9 years experience. 1 Article; 1,164 Posts

4 hours ago, brandy1017 said:

You don't know the reasons for their approved LOA.  If they were sick before than most likely they had health problems related to Corona. 

I don't know the situation where you work, but many places including mine didn't have adequate PPE and nurses were put in danger because of that!  At my workplace many have gotten Corona since this started and a couple have been hospitalized.  But hundreds of healthcare workers have died since this started mostly due to the lack of PPE! 

Sadly I just read an RT died from Corona after working tons of OT to help out.  She was high risk due to several health problems.   She left behind her husband, children and grandchildren, but she was very dedicated and went above and beyond when her employer would call she would pick up extra hours.  I wonder if she had cut back her hours if she would still be alive since they believe total virus load exposure determines your risk of Corona.

We are at risk, but some of us are at high risk for a bad outcome and have to make the decision whether to continue working or not.  I don't think there is any shame in putting yourself and your family first, especially when dealing with unsafe staffing and lack of PPE!

Amen

rhythmqueen94

rhythmqueen94

Has 30 years experience. 6 Posts

I think I understand some of the resentment that the OP feels. I went through something similar in March and April. I was "given" away to another manager and worked on a thrown together ICU with Covid patients. My hospital is unionized so hiring/firing is based on seniority. My issue is many of the staff on my unit took extended time off rather than touch a patient. I really feel it is more about the dynamics when people came back. What I went through was traumatic and it was difficult not to have people commiserate

PatMac10,RN, RN

Specializes in Nursing Education, CVICU, Float Pool. Has 9 years experience. 1 Article; 1,164 Posts

3 hours ago, rhythmqueen94 said:

I think I understand some of the resentment that the OP feels. I went through something similar in March and April. I was "given" away to another manager and worked on a thrown together ICU with Covid patients. My hospital is unionized so hiring/firing is based on seniority. My issue is many of the staff on my unit took extended time off rather than touch a patient. I really feel it is more about the dynamics when people came back. What I went through was traumatic and it was difficult not to have people commiserate

I can understand why we might feel resentment, at first. This things has altered many of our life’s both at work and outside of work. If we practice emotional intelligence it helps us see that, while we are free to be mad at whoever, it doesn’t make our anger and/or where we direct justified. Taking a leave of absence is a right benefit of employment... those folks decided to exercise it. It is not their responsibility to be in the trenches with folks during a pandemic.. they can quit or take a break from any job, for any reason, at anytime. If anything, I have respect for many of these folks leaving at my job... they are fantastic nurses who have entire lives to deal with outside of COVID19 and the pandemic has complicated all of that. How dare intact like ots their responsibility to stay and be miserable of commiserate with me. Thats, why I started seeing  a therapist at the beginning of all of this, and that's what I feel like more nurse need to do. Talk to someone! Even if it's the person from employee assistant (EAP). Be stewards of our own mental and emotional health. Throat doesn't have to be able a diagnosis.. I haven't had to he diagnosed  with anything, outside of just being like any other human being, living in a Pandemic and needing to talk to out with a neutral party. 

toomuchbaloney

toomuchbaloney

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 43 years experience. 9,418 Posts

PTSD will be an issue for acute care health professionals following this failed covid response.  Will health employers ignore it?

NurseSpeedy, ADN, LPN, RN

Has 20 years experience. 1,599 Posts

On 1/12/2021 at 9:58 AM, DK123 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.

Please do not even compare COVID19 to the flu. They were allowed to go on leave. You have no idea what their circumstances were and they have the right to privacy. Many nurses have pre-existing conditions or family members in their household at risk. They chose what they had to do at the time. If the facility allows them to come back now then that’s their choice-and they may be coming back now because they’ve had the vaccine and are at a much lower risk of contracting the virus and won’t need to disappear again. There’s been a vaccine for the flu for years. Sometimes effective, sometimes not-but we never had refrigerated trucks outside facilities as temporary storage morgues either in the past.

0.9%NormalSarah, ADN, RN

Specializes in ICU. Has 3 years experience. 242 Posts

@mom_e_bizcut The point I was trying to make in an earlier comment was this: who gets to decide what is “legitimate”? You? Well what if I disagree with you about what is a legitimate reason? Management is there for a reason, and the laws that protect people when they need time off for family and personal hardships are there for a reason and it’s because not everyone can always agree what’s a legitimate reason, so there is policy in place to protect workers. Just because 20 nurses all at the same time went on leave, that doesn’t mean they didn’t all have good reasons. I appreciate your comment and your perspective, I just respectfully disagree. 

To the OP: by all means, at the end of the day it is still a job. If a nurse decides he or she must take leave in order to preserve one’s own life and family, that is none of my business. It’s bizarre to me that anyone would attempt to decide what’s a good reason for another person to take a break in life. Also I guarantee if the OP is willing to type it all out here, they’ve mentioned it to others at work. Could you imagine being that nurse that took leave and heard about that gossip? If it were me, I’d tell them where they can go fly a kite and make sure they knew I owe them nothing and I care more about my family and myself than helping someone who talks crap about my personal business. This just gets my blood boiling. Life is hard enough for everyone without having to justify one’s personal decisions to every Tom, Dick, and Harry. 

 

JLBSN55

JLBSN55, BSN

Has 12 years experience. 18 Posts

Hi,

I agree with you, not fair! We were left hanging by our coworkers when they should’ve had our backs and now they waltz back in and expect everything to go back to normal. The people that stayed with us throughout during the early months which later ran through the Summer until today this pandemic have earned my respect and will always hold a special place in my heart. We went through hell with only each other for support and am grateful because it was during this time that everyone showed their true colors, this was the time I gained many brothers and sisters. I do understand some LOAs may have been justified, but I don’t include among these the nurses posting endless pictures on social media on the multiple outings they had with their families while I was restricting spending time with mine!  If you are not mentally strong to take care of your patients, then nursing may not be for you!
Now that that is off my chest, the real people to blame is administration that approved these LOAs. This is the same administration that is now turning their backs on the people that stayed and worked the long hours, that went weeks living out of a hotel room without being able to hug our families. Although we really can’t do anything about this, we now know the true character of each person and that will have to do as a consolation prize for the ones that stayed, the true heroes! 

verene, MSN

Specializes in mental health / psychiatic nursing. 1,790 Posts

We never know what is going on in another person's life, and often have only a limited window into what is going on in a coworker's life. Are there individuals who "took advantage" of LOA as OP implies? Possibly. 

That being said that are TONS of completely legitimate reasons to take LOA and to judge someone (and I read judgment in the air quotes of "personal reasons" and "sick leave") when you very likely have no idea what is actually going on in their lives and specifics of *why* they are taking (and have been approved) leave, strikes me as rather petty. 2020 was crap for a lot of people - between COVID, wildfires, lack of childcare, caregiving for relatives, upticks in substance use, community violence, and a burgeoning mental health crisis, not to mention just general bad luck there are any number of perfectly reasonable reasons why some one may have needed time off AND still be able to come back to work a few months down the road. 

Does it suck to be one of the people remaining during emergency staffing and being run ragged? Does having survived and now potentially feeling "replaced" or "less valued" or having never been giving recognition for this build resentment and frustration? Yes to both of these.  However, don't take this out on the people who took leave when they needed it a good number of them already have feelings of guilt for NOT working at a time when they REALLY did need time away from work to focus on any number of other things. 

 

Just off the top of my head I know of coworkers who in the last year have had to take leave for: 

Parent/child with severe illness/hospitalization

Maternity leave

House burned down in wildfires

Child being shot in head by a stray bullet from a drive-by shooting with resultant long-term PICU stay

Broken femur

Personally ill with COVID

COVID exposure and mandated quarantine

Parental/Spouse death

Resurgence/destabilization of mental health condition and need for time to adjust medication with out burdens/risks of being unstable at work

Family member with destabilized mental health condition (schizophrenia) and needing to support their access to care and get them back on track. 

Preme baby with NICU stay and due to quarantine restrictions no relative could take care of other children in home 

Surgery

Keeping kids from completely failing out of school with transition to online classes 

Exhaustion/Physical collapse and HCP recommendation for taking time off before individual's stress load turned into a heart attack.

Head injury

All seem like pretty darn reasonable circumstances to take some time off - (often with out or with very limited disability pay). I *know* about these cases because coworkers have shared with me why they were taking leave - but unless they had shared their story there is a good chance I might not have known what was going on. In the case of the coworker whose child was shot many of our other colleagues still don't know that is why she was out for a month and she could have stayed out longer but felt guilt for not being present on our understaffed unit. A good number of coworkers who don't know her story expressed some resentment while she was out or wondered why she "couldn't cope" with things, which then added to her stress load when she first came back (though things have since smoothed over). 

I the case of "HCP recommending leave" I knew because *I* was the emergency coverage for this individual and their absence doubled my case load - but I am SO VERY GLAD they took the time to be healthy. Would much rather have an insane work load for 2 months knowing they will be back, then have to call a code blue on a colleague or find out last minute they are in the ED or ICU and may not be able to return to work.  

Try to assume the best about your coworkers, should you ever need to take leave, one hopes they would do the same for you, and welcome you back once you are able to return to work. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

mom_e_bizcut, LPN

Specializes in Jack of all trades, master of...a few ;). Has 25 years experience. 23 Posts

I realize there are many sides to consider and we don't everyone's situation. No I DON’T think we should corner the absentees under a spotlight asking sarcastically if they enjoyed their LONG vacation. No I don't stick my nose in their business but some put their business out there not knowing who's going to see it. Yes I acknowledge the need for leave of absence policies, I’d hate to see an opposite situation that would leave employees without the option. I know there’s nothing we can do about the ones who abused the policies, so why am I still talking? Because some DID abuse the policies and those who were wrong..know they were wrong, and I’m disappointed in them and their lack of compassion. That’s it, professionals should have more personal accountability. 

You say they had the right to remove themselves from an unsafe situation because their employers are vermin, but I say the employers weren't the ones that got hurt in the process, 2 wrongs don’t make a right and when the deserters return they’ll come back to the same s##tshow they left so maybe a new strategy for change should be considered. 

You say we shouldn't fault those not willing to sacrifice themselves, I say the sacrifices would have been far less if we’d had all hands on deck.

 I agree big health sucks, they care little about employees and everything about keeping a fat bottom line, We all know that, I don’t feel sorry for them, my loyalty is not to them it’s to the patients, my co-workers, and my peers. Employers prefer to have us pitted against each other so they can pick you apart separately, keeping us in weakened positions so it’s harder to fight for positive changes, So I say when we treat our coworkers with such disregard, we’re making things easier for them and making it worse for us, the every nurse for them self mindset is helping no one.

 And I know it’s not nursing “nursery school” but going to work knowing that SOMEONE there has your back makes even bad situations a little more tolerable. So even if we can’t change things, even if the relationship between nurses really makes no difference, we can at least make our work day less miserable. 

We can’t change the past but continuing forward I just think there should be more emphasis put on integrity. Maybe more focus on it in school, make it a skill required for hiring, maybe add it to your preceptors list for orientation, check it off with our flippin competencies! However it can be done! It IS important.

toomuchbaloney

toomuchbaloney

Specializes in NICU, PICU, Transport, L&D, Hospice. Has 43 years experience. 9,418 Posts

One of the people arrested for participation in the insurrection at the Capitol is an RN from Georgia. I wonder if she was working with covid patients? It's nice that she had the day off work.