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Refused unemployment

Specializes in geriatrics. Has 27 years experience.

Hello Everyone!

I am in deep dispair following a denial to receive unemployment. I am shocked that I can't find anywhere to turn. I was working in a LTC facility in S.C. that has huge issues. Although the pay was incredible, I learned quickly why. This facility has a one star rating from medicare/medicaid, countless lawsuits, on and on. How they stay open is beyond me. I worked 7p to 7a, 48 residents on my unit, with a med pass nurse supposedly,to take one side of unit who would work until 11 p., 5 CNAs with 2 that would leave at 11., and the DON to call if needed. This staffing NEVER happened for me. Every monthly schedule included the above except when I worked. I never had a med pass nurse, and I was the only night nurse not given one. Every other nurse, month after month, on the same hall and shift, had help but me. It wasn't because I am super nurse, I assure you. I was new, out of my normal comfort zone as DON in Assisted Living communities, and from Arizona. I approached the staffing coordinator, my immediate supervisor, DON, and ADON. My supervisor said no one wanted to work with me and she couldn't make them. The staffing coordinator told me it was just a coincidence that there was no one to cover that short shift on my nights, the DON and ADON agreed. It was tough but I did my best to keep up. I had 19 accuchecks, 15 total care/bedridden, over 20 high risk for falls, 2 that were exit seekers that were waiting on a bed in the secured unit, and of course those that stay on the lights wanting this and that...and always short a CNA, sometimes 2. Although very stressful, I made it shift to shift, often working way into the next shift trying to catch up with incident reports, medicare charting, etc...Then Covid-19 came about...Things went from difficult to impossible very quickly. We suddenly had to do vitals q 2 hours, chart on an entire wing for medicare, entire wing would be on isolation and require the PPE that we didn't have, but I did my best to hold on. It was like holding on to the side of a sky scraper for the entire shift. I would go in early and leave late. We did not get hazard pay, but the last three shifts I worked were unspeakable. I accepted the keys for my carts, not knowing that at 11 pm, I would have just one CNA. One CNA for 48 residents that I described above, and to make matters worse, my 69 yr. old CNA had been there since 7 a.m. and was working a 24 hr. shift. No CNAs wanted to work with the risk of COVID-19 so they were quitting left and right. I would stay hours trying to figure out how to chart on this mess, and either way I turned, I was screwed. I couldn't do anything but answer lights and do sliding scales. I found my CNA asleep in a patients room after she went missing for 1 1/2 hours. I called my DON all three nights and she never returned my calls. I left her message after message and told her she had to come help me...no answer. I wanted to keep my job because I am 57, support a son in college, and wanted to save money so I could finally begin to think about one day retiring. I didn't even consider quitting because I could get unemployment, I made much more working, plus I didn't think I qualified due to my length of tenure. After my last shift I went home in complete horror. I didn't know how to explain in documentation, I couldn't get in touch with anyone like DEHEC to report it. It was a Sunday, then on that Monday so many offices were closed and didn't want to report before I spoke to a peer to help me understand the severity of what I dealt with. All in all, I knew I had a legal and ethical obligation to quit, as I would be compromising patient safety and I must refuse to accept any continued assignment. When applying for unemployment, I explained this legal obligation, explaining the authority for this type of refusal could be found many places, including the American Nurses Association's Guide to the Code of Ethics for Nurses Interpretation and Applications and It's Standards and Scope of Nursing Practice. This seemed to be of no concern, and deemed me to have quit without just cause and was told this was a general/personal reason. Are you kidding me? It took them 2 months to come up with that? In S.C., there is no UI advocate that I have found. I have filed for an appeal, but I am told it could take months. I am so upset. I am considering saying goodbye to my career in Nursing and do something new. Has anyone experienced a similar situation or quit for the same reason?

I don't know but I would have suspected no one would care about nurses' ethical obligations so I don't think I would've wasted time even telling them about it.

I probably would have said employer refused to provide remotely safe work environment in accordance with state and federal laws and has been reported to x, y & z.

Sorry you are going through this. Find another job ASAP?

Good luck ~

JabuJabule, LPN

Specializes in LTC. Has 1 years experience.

I just want you to say this is HORRIFYING, coming from another night nurse. Kudos to you for sticking around so long. I have no advice, but I just want you to know that you're amazing for what you did and tried to do.

amoLucia

Specializes in LTC.

File a complaint with Dept of Labor. Staff cannot work beyond 16 hours. Major violation there. Bottom line!

While South Carolina does NOT have a 'Safe Harbor' legal law like Texas, you could have filed something similar with your nsg admin and that could have provided you some ammunition. That would have been BEFORE you chose to relinquish your position.

Also, file a complaint with your State Dept of Health. There were major issues, like staffing and lack of PPE. The DOH can review shift staffing numbers and if found deficient, it really could bolster your position re unsafe staffing that posed a serious safety problem for your pts and a risk to your license. That might bolster your appeal with Unemployment.

You could check for past DOH/CMS survey reports for any previous staffing violation deficiencies. Never hurts to have such powerful ammo of unsafe staffing with which to fight your fight. WOW!! That would be some kicker! And if again found to be deficient, the facility could be fined, I believe. Icing on the cake!

So sorry you were employed at such a bad facility. Good luck to you.

Let us know how it works out for you in your appeal.

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