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Nurses Disciplined, Fired for Wearing Hospital-Issued Scrubs

Disasters   (2,401 Views | 24 Replies)

CaffeinePOQ4HPRN has 10 years experience as a BSN, MSN, LPN, RN.

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Every day when Cliff Willmeng, RN, got home from a shift in the emergency department (ED), he took off his scrubs in a spot in the garage delineated with red duct tape, a spot his kids knew not to walk through. Then he raced through his house in his underwear, delaying hugs to his kids, heading straight to the shower. He hoped the routine would help keep COVID-19 away from his family.

The policy at his hospital, United Hospital in St. Paul, Minnesota, dictates that emergency department nurses and technicians wear personal scrubs, laundered at home, whereas physicians and physician assistants can wear hospital-issued scrubs that are laundered on site.

One day, Willmeng decided enough was enough. Why should colleagues who worked in the same space for the same 12-hour shifts be subjected to different uniform restrictions? Why should he have to worry about coronavirus-saturated clothes when other employees at the same hospital didn't?

Several years ago, according to Zetella Caauwe, RN, the hospital started requiring ED nurses to wear their own navy blue scrubs. Cauuwe, who has worked at United for 23 years, says they made the change so that patients could distinguish nurses from doctors, who wore seal blue hospital-issued scrubs. But the policies vary from one hospital to the next in the same health system, and even from one department to the next in the same hospital.

Tired of the duality and fearing for his family's health, Willmeng and some of his nursing colleagues started wearing hospital-issued scrubs and changing on site.

READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE: Nurses Disciplined, Fired for Wearing Hospital-Issued Scrubs

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1 Follower; 2,887 Posts; 40,019 Profile Views

The employer just showed them exactly how much nurses are valued in the health system. 

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BSNbeDONE has 34 years experience as a ASN, BSN, LPN, RN and specializes in Med/Surg, LTACH, LTC, Home Health.

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At our facility, all of our outpatient RNs are being required to become proficient in performing the in-depth physical assessments using video-capability cameras and tools that the physicians and their NPs ordinarily would have been responsible for.

Why? So that the physicians and NPs can be tucked away safely at home from potential exposure (while the RNs gather data that we initially didn’t have “the brains” to do) as the MDs, PAs, and NPs look, listen, and diagnose from afar. 

The ‘unofficial’ word is that this is going to be the new norm here when training is complete as we get up-close and personal with the very individuals the providers are hiding from. To show how much of a second or after-thought nurses and ancillary personnel have become, the uniforms initially purchased solely for these providers are now our hand-me-downs since the providers are getting the heck outta Dodge. It was the best-kept secret until they left. Yet we’re ALL in this together??? Gimme a break!

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

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This is not the hill I would die on, but I respect the message behind it and the tenacity.

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CaffeinePOQ4HPRN has 10 years experience as a BSN, MSN, LPN, RN.

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4 hours ago, JadedCPN said:

This is not the hill I would die on, but I respect the message behind it and the tenacity.

Maybe not a hill to die on, but a good reminder for any nurse who feels "torn" about declining a shift or coming out of retirement. #STAYHOME eff the hospital! They can't even be bothered to value us enough for scrubs....STAY HOME! Decline that shift! Stay retired! Got the day off and they're begging you to come in? Draw a bubble bath! Do your taxes, bake some bread, etc...Take care of yourself, your family, your children... most importantly yourself.

Edited by CaffeinePOQ4HPRN

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JadedCPN has 13 years experience as a BSN, RN and specializes in Pediatrics, Pediatric Float, PICU, NICU.

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6 minutes ago, CaffeinePOQ4HPRN said:

Maybe not a hill to die on, but a good reminder for any nurse who feels "torn" about declining a shift or coming out of retirement. #STAYHOME eff the hospital! They can't even be bothered to value us enough for scrubs....STAY HOME! Decline that shift! Stay retired! Got the day off and they're begging you to come in? Draw a bubble bath! Do your taxes, bake some bread, etc...Take care of yourself, your family, your children... most importantly yourself.

This. 100%.

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Hillbilly RN has 49 years experience as a BSN and specializes in M/S and NICU Certified-Now Retired.

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Not to condone what was being done, but everything the nurse does today was once the domain of the MD. B/P's, IV's, assessments were all strictly for doctors. The way nurses finally got these were because the doctors got tired of doing them. The way this pandemic is changing everything, nurses will be the initial contacts and will do all the assessments and telemed will be the way of the future.

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LovingPeds has 10 years experience as a MSN, APRN, NP and specializes in Pediatrics; Maternal-Child Nursing Education.

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To me this really demonstrates the problem with US medical care. The administration here not only showed how much they valued nurses, but demonstrated why our general healthcare is so mediocre for it to be so expensive. It can range from $22,000 - 80,000 (depending on your source) to replace a single nurse. You have to spend man hours in HR to approve the position, hours spent in interviewing, hours spent fielding job candidates before you even decide on a hire. Then pay both the full staff plus the one being oriented until the end of orientation. The cost of laundering the scrubs would have been so much more cost effective and would have boosted morale when the nursing staff felt supported during the pandemic. These types of poor decisions help result in the sky high bills we see as patients and the high nurse turnover that occurs when management continually stands in its own way.

On another note, I really dislike when people pretend that the specifically colored scrubs mean anything to anyone outside of the hospital environment. As a patient myself, I couldn't care less what color my nurse is wearing and I'm not wanting to be bothered to learn what the colors mean when at a facility. Call me old fashioned, but I recognize faces and like introductions. Also in my experience, a lot of patients assume that anyone who comes into their room in scrubs is a nurse unless they've been introduced as otherwise. I've often wondered if the forced color code is really effective for patients as they claim or a way to identify what your random coworker in the hallway does. Anyone have any experience or input because I'm truly curious?

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3 hours ago, Hillbilly RN said:

Not to condone what was being done, but everything the nurse does today was once the domain of the MD. B/P's, IV's, assessments were all strictly for doctors. The way nurses finally got these were because the doctors got tired of doing them. The way this pandemic is changing everything, nurses will be the initial contacts and will do all the assessments and telemed will be the way of the future.

Yep.

And physical therapy and respiratory therapy were once the domain of nursing too.

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Hillbilly RN has 49 years experience as a BSN and specializes in M/S and NICU Certified-Now Retired.

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4 hours ago, LovingPeds said:

To me this really demonstrates the problem with US medical care. The administration here not only showed how much they valued nurses, but demonstrated why our general healthcare is so mediocre for it to be so expensive. It can range from $22,000 - 80,000 (depending on your source) to replace a single nurse. You have to spend man hours in HR to approve the position, hours spent in interviewing, hours spent fielding job candidates before you even decide on a hire. Then pay both the full staff plus the one being oriented until the end of orientation. The cost of laundering the scrubs would have been so much more cost effective and would have boosted morale when the nursing staff felt supported during the pandemic. These types of poor decisions help result in the sky high bills we see as patients and the high nurse turnover that occurs when management continually stands in its own way.

On another note, I really dislike when people pretend that the specifically colored scrubs mean anything to anyone outside of the hospital environment. As a patient myself, I couldn't care less what color my nurse is wearing and I'm not wanting to be bothered to learn what the colors mean when at a facility. Call me old fashioned, but I recognize faces and like introductions. Also in my experience, a lot of patients assume that anyone who comes into their room in scrubs is a nurse unless they've been introduced as otherwise. I've often wondered if the forced color code is really effective for patients as they claim or a way to identify what your random coworker in the hallway does. Anyone have any experience or input because I'm truly curious?

I have 6 pairs of navy blue scrubs sitting in my closet from the "old days" before I retired. Somehow admins across the country must have read some study that to dress workers in different colors makes it easier to identify a persons job and fell for it whole hog. What a bunch of BS. I could care less what a person taking care of me was wearing as long as the care they gave was "good" care.

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CaffeinePOQ4HPRN has 10 years experience as a BSN, MSN, LPN, RN.

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9 hours ago, Hillbilly RN said:

I have 6 pairs of navy blue scrubs sitting in my closet from the "old days" before I retired. Somehow admins across the country must have read some study that to dress workers in different colors makes it easier to identify a persons job and fell for it whole hog. What a bunch of BS. I could care less what a person taking care of me was wearing as long as the care they gave was "good" care.

The fact that they won't provide scrubs to nurses on the frontline even during a friggin PANDEMIC (apart from showing how little they value nurses)... is  counterproductive to all other IPAC measures. 

Edited by CaffeinePOQ4HPRN

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Tait has 13 years experience as a MSN, RN and specializes in Acute Care Cardiac, Education, Prof Practice.

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We spent several weeks trying to come up with a solution for all our nurses to have access to hospital scrubs. We went round and round about the cost, dispersion, people wearing them home and not having them properly cleaned, how to hand them out, alternatives like laundering personal scrubs in house, on and on. In the end our system didn't come up with anything, but my hospital moved ahead with getting the COVID unit and the ICU hospital scrubs if they wanted them. Now pretty much everyone in the hospital seems to be in them and I am waiting to hear how much we have lost in cleaning and missing sets.

While I don't agree with the firing, I also don't agree with just "going and grabbing them anyway." It was an opportunity on both sides to come up with a plan to disperse scrubs, not lose a ton of money, and help the staff feel safer.

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