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Telehealth nurse not allowed to work from home

Updated | Posted
by Nurse Beth Nurse Beth, MSN (Columnist) Educator Columnist Innovator Expert Nurse

Specializes in Med Surg, Tele, ICU, Ortho. Has 30 years experience.

Dear Nurse Beth,

I am currently working in telehealth in a large call center with 100s of nurses. We will soon be the only health care for the majority of our community as COVID-19 makes it unsafe to go to clinics and EDs in our hard hit area in California.

I really want us to all WORK FROM HOME. This way if one or two nurses are infected, the majority will go on okay. If we worked from home we would all be able to put in a lot more extra hours as needed.
Also, we are all given an N95 mask for the shift. Although this is much needed, if we worked at home, those masks could go to nurses in direct patient care.
Is there anything that can be done to push our large company (with multiple facilities in multiple states) to have us work from home?
We have many elderly and compromised nurses. It would make SO MUCH sense to work from home! Our company is known to negotiate for months over contract changes (once they get started)
How can I best work with our company to help our telehealth nurses work safely from their homes asap??

Thanks so much,

Dear Wants to Work from Home,

It's hard to believe this company is disregarding social distancing guidelines. If several of you are working in a room, there should be 6 feet between you in a group of no more than 10 employees.

But as you say, you should be working from home. Governor Gavin Newsom (CA) has been very clear on ordering Californians to shelter in place and stay at home to slow transmission.

What's troublesome is the "why". Many companies were flexible and fast to comply with having their employees work from home. Most assuredly your company leadership has had meetings around this topic and for some reason has decided against it.

Is there an Infection Prevention or Employee Health person you could appeal to? Hopefully they would speak up and advocate for doing the right thing to protect employees.

Have a conversation with your immediate supervisor and ask to work from home. The benefit is keeping employees healthy and productive.

Good luck to you, keep us posted.

Nurse Beth

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