LAS VEGAS (KTNV) — Confusing and potentially dangerous — that’s what some valley nurses are saying, blasting policies at some hospitals where workers infected with COVID-19 are allowed to stay on the job if they have mild or no symptoms. Hospitals are saying they’re following updated Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines in addressing staffing shortages.
“It’s just hard to be a health care worker right now," said Nicole Taylor, a nurse at MountainView Hospital.
The pandemic has taken a toll on Taylor and her fellow nurses. She has seen colleagues burned out and get sick with COVID-19 and is frustrated with the direction they’re being given.
“It feels that the government and the hospitals have failed health care workers and, essentially, the community," Taylor said.
She is blasting new policies where infected health care workers can stay on the job if they show mild or no symptoms of COVID-19. It’s based on updated CDC guidelines if there’s a critical staff shortage. Nevada hospital firm Dignity Health says they’re following those guidelines, too.
Taylor says nurses have to be at 100 percent health-wise so they can be attentive to patients and procedures.
“When you’re still not feeling your best and to have people’s lives in your hands, it’s scary. It also puts nurses in such a hard position,” she said.
The Nevada Hospital Association says there is a shortage of health care workers locally. The association declared a staffing crisis in Southern Nevada and some rural areas last week.
Taylor, who is also the chief nurse representative with the union National Nurses United, disputes that idea. She says there aren’t enough nurses willing to risk their licenses working in conditions they feel keep them from protecting themselves and their patients.
“There comes a point where nurses are just drawing the line, and people are leaving the profession at an astronomical rate,” she said.
Nurses at MountainView Hospital plan to protest Thursday morning. The hospital released a statement, saying in part:
“We want to ensure the community that safety is of paramount importance to MountainView Hospital, its patients, and its colleagues. Every member of the organization has stepped forward to support patient care over the past two years of the pandemic. No one cares more for our colleagues than we do. It is disappointing that labor union leadership doesn’t recognize the valuable contributions of ALL colleagues throughout the entire organization who are working diligently to help our patients and our community get through yet another critical COVID-19 surge.”