Texas Hospital making nurses resign or take care of COVID patients

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Hi, the hospital I work for in Texas has instituted a new policy of forcing all non-clinical nurses to go back to bedside nursing and take care of COVID patients. Nurses are told that they don't have a choice but resignation.

I haven't done bedside nursing in over 7 years (been doing quality and informatics) and feel that I don't have it in me (skillwise and desire) to go back to bedside nursing. What should I do?

- Can hospitals really force people to resign or is this just a tactic so that they don't have to pay unemployment?

- Do nurses qualify for unemployment?

- Can safe harbor be invoked here?

Nurse SMS, MSN, RN

Specializes in Critical Care; Cardiac; Professional Development. Has 10 years experience.

Yes, they can do this.

No, you won't qualify for unemployment if they are offering you a job and you refuse it.

Safe Harbor can and should be invoked if they do not give you options for training and precepting to get up to speed.

The staffing situation in the hot spots in Texas is dire. I am not using that word lightly. They don't have a choice. They need nurses at the bedside more than in informatics right now and are asking nurses to step up everywhere. I understand your reluctance. But yes, they definitely are within the law to do this. After all, bottom line is that we are all nurses and capable of providing hands on care.

A Hit With The Ladies, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 5 years experience.

I agree with Nurse SMS on this one. But be proud of your work as a nursing informatics/QA nurse. Play hardball and quit. No point in being a martyr for a specialty or job you don't want to do. You would only end up resentful and miserable (best case scenario) or liable to making harmful mistakes (worst case scenario), neither of which is optimal for COVID patients.

herring_RN, ASN, BSN

Specializes in Critical care, tele, Medical-Surgical. Has 49 years experience.

3 hours ago, Rex Sanchez said:

Hi, the hospital I work for in Texas has instituted a new policy of forcing all non clinical nurses to go back to bedside nursing and take care of COVID patients. Nurses are told that they don't have a choice but resignation.

I haven't done bedside nursing in over 7 years (been doing quality and informatics) and feel that I don't have it in me (skillwise and desire) to go back to bedside nursing. What should I do?

- Can hospitals really force people to resign or is this just a tactic so that they don't have to pay unemployment?

- Do nurses qualify for unemployment?

- Can safe harbor be invoked here?

Contact the Texas Board of nursing for answers. 333 Guadalupe, Suite 3-460 Austin, TX 78701-3944 | P: (512) 305-7400; | F: (512) 305-7401

https://www.BON.texas.gov/results.asp?q=+safe+harbor#gsc.tab=0&gsc.q= safe harbor&gsc.page=1

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Community, Nurse Manager. Has 5 years experience.

Texas failed to implement a strategy to control the outbreak. No masks, no shutdown. Now they are in crisis and ready to throw you into a situation you can't handle.

Glad I live in NJ where the governor responded appropriately. There's no way I'm leaving.

A Hit With The Ladies, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 5 years experience.

4 hours ago, FolksBtrippin said:

Glad I live in NJ where the governor responded appropriately. There's no way I'm leaving.

No one asked you to come to Texas. Also, New Jersey has more than twice as many Coronavirus cases per 1000 people compared to Texas. Some great accomplishment.

vone28

Specializes in Psychiatry. Has 2 years experience.

4 hours ago, FolksBtrippin said:

Texas failed to implement a strategy to control the outbreak. No masks, no shutdown. Now they are in crisis and ready to throw you into a situation you can't handle.

Glad I live in NJ where the governor responded appropriately. There's no way I'm leaving.

I agree, I live in Texas. The Governor has been pathetic to say the least. Cases are climbing to historic highs. No leadership. Incredibly frustrating.

FolksBtrippin, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Community, Nurse Manager. Has 5 years experience.

2 hours ago, A Hit With The Ladies said:

No one asked you to come to Texas. Also, New Jersey has more than twice as many Coronavirus cases per 1000 people compared to Texas. Some great accomplishment.

You don't know what I've been asked to do. But as usual, you like to comment about what you know nothing about.

And NJ brought our new cases way down with shutdowns and social distancing measures. We have way less new cases than Texas. And we've been dealing with this a lot longer.

Hospitals all over the country are implementing these kind of policy decisions. Like most things in nursing, if ALL nurses would band together, nurses would have more "say-so" about these decisions. This is especially true at times like these where nurses have the power, while also having to make tough decisions holding patient care hostage. Administration knows that is a tough decision for nurses using that against the us, hence the current policy changes.

As much as you may want to retain your current position, if you are unwilling to follow your hospital's new policy, it may be time to leave. For whatever the reason, following your feelings of the heart while rationalizing your safety and comfort may bring greater piece of mind.

9kidsmomRN

Specializes in Cardiac. Has 30 years experience.

Where I work in Wisconsin, we stopped all elective surgeries and procedures and started early “upskilling “ people who work med/surg areas and cath lab/OR staff to reenter the bedside and critical care world. Even clinic staff from closed clinics voluntarily trained to come (or come back) to the hospital. We were waiting for covid to come in like a flood. It did not—thank God. Now that we have ramped back up to business as usual and we are trying to catch up with our back log of elective surgeries and procedures our ICU’s are full all the time with many of us working 60 hours a week. Anyway that said, if your employer offers (requires) bedside work the training must also be offered. There also was a ton of information out through the ANA and ANCC about upskilling and training to get nurses prepared for bedside and critical care nursing. Not judging but most of us became nurses to help those in need. When in the last century have people been more in need? You have to do what you think is best....I can tell you though that your fellow nurses will be supportive and welcoming and much appreciate the help you can offer!!

J.Adderton, BSN, MSN

Specializes in Clinical Leadership, Staff Development, Education. Has 28 years experience.

Where I work, all nurses working in the hospital (regardless of position) is being asked to step up and help. They are considering competency ect. but like other hospitals, staffing is at critical levels. They are careful about floating staff from high risk areas in and out of COVID units.

A Hit With The Ladies, BSN, RN

Specializes in Psych. Has 5 years experience.

22 hours ago, FolksBtrippin said:

And NJ brought our new cases way down with shutdowns and social distancing measures. We have way less new cases than Texas. And we've been dealing with this a lot longer.

Yet, again, you have way more cases relative to your population than we do.