St. Paul, MN – As cases of COVID-19 continue to rise across Minnesota, members of the Minnesota Nurses Association have announced that they will march on May 20 from Allina Health United Hospital to the Minnesota State Capitol to demand that management of United Hospital and other hospitals provide proper PPE, training, and safety, as well as transparency to keep nurses and other healthcare workers safe. They will also be delivering a petition with over 10,000 signatures to the Minnesota Department of Health demanding a Pandemic Bill of Rights to keep Minnesotans safe. Social distancing guidelines will be followed during the march.
The march is starting at Allina’s United Hospital for a good reason. Recently several RNs at United Hospital were given non-disciplinary counselings for wearing hospital-provided scrubs. Others have received disciplinary notices, and one has even been fired for the practice. Many nurses have been using the hospital scrubs instead of their own to keep their families safe and ensure they are not bringing COVID-19 home with them when they leave work. Several nurses have even had their pay illegally docked to make up for time that management decided to spend yelling inappropriately at nurses for asking for scrubs rather than using that time to provide healthcare and battle COVID-19. Charges have been filed against Allina Health System for this illegal and absurd behavior.
The nurse who was fired explained the situation on a recent social media post about the firing, saying, “Today I was fired from my job at United Hospital ER.” The termination as described was for wearing hospital issued scrubs and violating his duty to follow the directions of his leader. “I was wearing hospital scrubs, like many others are, so that I would not bring COVID 19 back home to my family. Although I am the first to be terminated for this, I’m not the only RN being punished for it. It’s part of six weeks’ worth of harassment we have all experienced as we attempt to make our workplace safer for staff and patients.”
The nurses recently opposed an executive order from Governor Tim Walz that allows for the resumption of elective procedures. They say they will oppose this practice until hospitals can show PPE resources have been obtained and healthcare workers’ exposure is minimized.
Mary Turner is the Minnesota Nurses Association president and is an ICU RN at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis. Here is what she had to say about the situation. “Minnesota is falling short. We are not protecting the very people who are caring for Minnesotans. Nurses and hospital workers need to be there as this pandemic spikes, and it’s going to be all hands on deck. The effect of these policies is not just numbers, it’s lives.”
MNA says they will file the appropriate “10 Day Notice” with Allina Health and United Hospital for an informational picket. This will not be a work stoppage, as no nurses will leave their jobs to participate in the march.
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