Unfortunately, this is not necessarily true. That’s what I thought as well. However, your employer cannot fire you because you have a WC claim, but make no mistake-your job is not guaranteed safe, especially in an “at will” state.
So here’s my story. I got severe Covid pneumonia in July. I had two known exposures at work. One was a patient (from a local NH with a known Covid outbreak). He tested negative on admission. That particular day I was caring for non Covid patients (we’re a small community hospital with a 30 bed MS unit-3 pods of 10 beds each. So this patient was on the non Covid hall. As such I used only universal precautions-gloves and a surgical mask. This was when supplies were still limited so only nurses on the Covid halls were allotted N95s. They literally kept them put up and handed them out at shift change.
Took care of the patient throughout my shift. That night he spiked a fever and was retested as positive.
Second exposure, a few days later, I was on the Covid hall. Patient (from the same nursing home) known positive. I wore full PPE. He had dementia and would not keep his oxygen on. We were in and out of the room frequently putting his oxygen back on because he kept desatting. He got worse & worse as the day went on. He was in a negative pressure room and had a neb treatment ordered. I called RT. They refused to come up stating it was a nursing responsibility to administer nebs to Covid patients (only one RT on duty so they were worried about cross contamination to non Covid patients). I checked with my charge and she said because the patient was in a negative pressure room that it was OK to administer the neb. So I did. Again, like with the oxygen, the patient kept taking his mask off. (We had video surveillance set up for confused/high risk for fall patients). I ended up going in & out of the room multiple times and finally ended up just staying in the room holding the neb. until it finished. This was before prolonged exposure was a thing. But obviously even with full PPE this was a prolonged exposure to an aerosolizing procedure.
A few days later, I had my first symptoms of Covid. By Day 5, I was admitted to the hospital with severe Covid pneumonia. Spent 13 days in the hospital, 5 in ICU in respiratory failure on 60 liters high flow oxygen. Was discharged on home oxygen (which I’m still on 24/7). I’ve developed interstitial lung disease and recently was diagnosed with pulmonary hypertension. Also now have secondary adrenal insufficiency and gastric ulcers due to being on steroids for the last 7+ months.
I filed a WC claim. It was denied by the hospital’s insurance carrier (they are a non subscriber). I have an attorney and am appealing that decision but it’s going to be a battle. Anyway, right before Thanksgiving I received an email basically stating that I could access my pay statements, W-2s, etc via the FORMER employee portal. What??? So I call HR and am informed I’ve “been taken off the books” (I’m PRN, even though I have worked full time hours plus since starting there) because there is an upcoming JAHCO visit and they were taking all employees who hadn’t been working “off the books”. And even though the knew why I had not been working, it was necessary. They graciously (insert eye roll) said that once I was medically released by my doctor I could reapply and this would not negatively affect any references or referrals. Gee thanks!
Obviously I called my lawyer. As long as there is a reduction in the work force (ie, I was not the only one “taken off the books”) they can do this and I have no recourse. Still we are considering a wrongful termination case in addition to the appeal.