Some advice someone told me if your facility does not provide proper PPE or - even more idiotic - instructs you not to bring your own to work due to the lack of PPE.
1. Know that you need to be selfish about your safety. Not a lot of people can do what you can do. And if one of you is gone, think of the potential lives that you couldve saved or changed.
2. Prepare that even if your facility still has PPE, expect supplies to run out soon. Your facility should have not made cuts to their supply chains prior to this pandemic.
3. Make a paper trail - What you need to print or have copies of (if possible)
- the facility’s default policy and procedures regarding PPE.
- state laws and regulations or OSHA regulations regarding infectious diseases, especially if they’re more stringent than CDC guidelines (remember, they’re JUST guidelines). Anything on pandemics or bioterrorism helps too.
- copies of any E-mails, notices, or flyers from your hospital regarding lack of PPE or changes in PPE policy.
- scientific research papers regarding effectiveness of PPE.
- scientific research or reports regarding Covid 19 transmission and lifespan.
- copy of your last n95 fit test results
- current facility inventory of ppe items. Every Hospital is going to come up with the blurb “our staff and patient safety is our priority” and that “we have adequate PPE” Bullshit. Ask and have them define what they mean by “Adequate PPE”.
- your unit layout (no negative pressure rooms, co-ed, open or curtained wards)
- your union contract (if you have one)
- don’t print, but do look to see if you are bound by a non-disclosure agreement.
4. If you come to work and find yourself in an unsafe assignment, notify your supervisor.
- have a willing witness with you so this is not a he said/she said situation.
- State the reason why you are refusing your assignment - not because of the patient but due to safety reasons. (I.e. lack of protective gear, being pregnant.)
- Ask for alternative assignments or duties if possible.
- Take note of other people who are present as potential witnesses. (Keep a copy of your assignment paper.)
- Do NOT resign. Have your manager or charge nurse go through the avenue of diciplinary actions/escalate the situation. Make sure that your reasons are clearly recorded.
- if you are escorted by security out of the hospital, follow their instructions. Take their names down too. Let them know that you have nothing against them (I’m pretty sure they have nothing against you either). They can serve as your potential witnesses. Ask for a log or a security ticket from them as proof that you didn’t leave from your own accord and that nothing is falsified.
4. Facing diciplinary action:
- if you have a union, contact them, even if they’re useless AF. You chucked a portion of your paycheck to them, they need to work for you. If you don’t have a union, contact a lawyer (not sure if nursing malpractice insurance companies provide one in this situation, but its worth a try). Use them to collect all those reports are made about “your behavior”. Collect any afadavits from any sympathetic witnesses as well.
If your higher ups call you for a meeting, have your union representative or lawyer with you if possible. If they’re pushing you to sign something, read EVERYTHING carefully and take your time. Make addenums if they allow you to. If you don’t like what you see, don’t sign it, but still have a copy that you did meet them at the table. If you agree to the terms of said document, make sure everyone in the room signs the document before you do.
- if they fire you, time to collect unemployment.
Useful but nonrelated information:
- some hospitals have started recycling programs for masks. Not sure what to think of this but worth a try collecting
- if you are positive Covid19, if you have an android phone that hasn’t opted out of Google’s data collecting and you’re VERY GOOD at quarantining yourself, collecting your entire location history might help in proving you caught the virus at work.