University Hospital is now considered a predominantly CoVid-19 facility because the majority of patients are either waiting for confirmation of their CoVid-19 status or have been confirmed positive. The Governor has invoked Executive Order no. 112 which enables members to practice outside of their discipline when providing health care services during this crisis. For example, a registered nurse who is regularly scheduled to work in L&D can now be assigned to care for CoVid-19 patients or a registered nurse from G-Blue can be assigned to work in the ER. Members are being reassigned to units, with little to no educational resources, as management struggles to keep up with the overwhelming demand of CoVid-19 patients during this crisis.
As a result of the Governor’s Executive Order, members are immune from civil liability during this public health outbreak however they must do the best that they can under these grave circumstances. It is imperative that members complete an Unsafe Staffing Form every time they are either floated to a unit or assigned a patient which they feel are not competent to provide safe patient care.
Lastly, we encourage every member to practice safety precautions when providing care to CoVid-19 patients. At no point should a member enter a patients’ room without the proper N95 as well as other PPE. If a member has failed their fit-test, they should immediately notify Infection Control as well as their manager.
On another note, HPAE is working to secure some form of hazard pay for our members as they are on the front lines of this public health crisis and will keep you posted on the progress. In addition, management has cancelled all scheduled vacations for the foreseeable future as they anticipate continued staffing shortages. Please keep track of all benefit time used as well as any vacation time that had been cancelled as we anticipate some discrepancies once the crisis ends.
University Hospital is following the CDC’s guidelines which states that any healthcare worker fearing they may have been exposed must continue to report to work until they exhibit symptoms. If members are immunodeficient or is the primary caregiver for someone that is immunodeficient, they should call Human Resources to discuss their options during this time. As the number of CoVid-19 patients increase, it becomes more important that our members are aware of their rights. Please go to https://www.hpae.org/issues/coronavirus-what-you-need-to-know/ for more information on your rights during this pandemic or feel free to contact your local union rep.
Cynthia McDougall, RN
President, HPAE Local 5089