US Medical Staff Threatened with Firing for Going Public on Unacceptable Working Conditions
by Stephen Lendman (stephenlendman.org - Home - Stephen Lendman)
NYC is the global epicenter of COVID-19 cases. Confirmed cases on Friday were around 103,000, up over 10,000 in the last 24 hours.
The number of cases in NY state doubled in the past week. The US overall has around one-third of global cases.
Things are worsening in the US because of Trump regime incompetence and indifference, largely focusing on bailing out business, giving a public health crisis short shrift — featuring lots of rhetoric, little action, a high crime against all Americans in need.
US medical staff in hospitals are overworked and inadequately protected against the threat of COVID-19 infection.
Crain's New York and other media reported that hospital staff are being threatened with termination if speak out about lack of personal protective gear (PPE).
It's happening nationwide. Washington state ER Dr. Ming Li was fired because of a newspaper interview he gave and a Facebook posting about lack of PPE and testing.
"Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health care workers in an attempt to preserve their image. It is outrageous," said Ruth Schubert, spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association, adding:
Medical staff "must have the ability to tell the public what is really going on inside the facilities where they are caring for Covid-19 patients."
Crain's said "(a) nurse in Chicago was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty."
Lauri Mazurkiewicz fired by Chicago's Northwestern Memorial Hospital filed a wrongful termination lawsuit.
"A lot of hospitals are lying to their workers and saying that simple masks are sufficient, and nurses are getting sick and they are dying," she said.
Her elderly father suffers from a respiratory illness. She cares for him, doesn't want to get infected, fearing she'll infect him and other family members.
According to Law Professor Glenn Cohen, it's important "for healthcare workers to be able to express their own fears and concerns, especially when expressing that might get them better protection."
It doesn't deter US hospital administrators from wanting medical staff muzzled — First Amendment rights be damned.
NYU Langone Health professionals were told they'll be "subject to disciplinary action including termination" for speaking publicly about hospital conditions without official authorization."
According to Bloomberg News, medical staff at New York's Montefiore Health System must not speak publicly about what's going on in the hospital without permission.
Media requests must be "vetted" by the facility's PR department.
North Carolina radiologist Nisha Mehta said she's "hearing widespread stories from physicians across the country, and they are all saying:"
" 'We have these stories that we think are important to get out, but we are being told by our hospital systems that we are not allowed to speak to the press, and if we do so there will be extreme consequences.' "
Mehta stressed that the public and other medical staff nationwide need to know what's going on and speak out to correct what's unacceptable.
On Friday, Popular Resistance reported that "dozens of nurses, members of SEIU Healthcare PA, walked off at the Brighton Rehab and Wellness Center in Western Pennsylvania's Beaver County" the previous day, adding:
The mass walkout came "after 36 elderly residents and six healthcare workers at the nursing home tested positive for COVID-19." Two deaths were reported.
The Trump regime and Congress failed to include mandated PPE in the corporate bailout bill — reportedly at the request of the American Hospital Association that prioritizes profits over all else.
This weekend, US COVID-19 cases will greatly exceed 300,000. Before end of April, they'll like top one million.
On April 1, National Nurses United said the following:
"As politicians grandstand on television, promising time and again that proper personal protective equipment (PPE) is on the way, there is one question on far too many nurses' minds:"
"Where is it? Where is the PPE?"
"Too many nurses and other health care workers are still going without the equipment we desperately need to protect ourselves and our patients from COVID-19."
"That means those of us on the front lines of this crisis are going to work every day wondering when we'll contract the virus, when we'll pass it to a patient, or when we'll bring it home to our families."
"We have been sounding the alarm since January."
"We cannot continue to wait for PPE. All of our lives are on the line."
On Friday, Trump tweeted: "America is engaged in a historic battle to safeguard the lives of our citizens (sic)."
He tweets while Rome burns because of White House inaction.
The blaze's epicenter in NYC saw the number of deaths from COVID-19 double in the past three days from about 1,550 to more than 3,200.
On Friday, Trump did what he always does, blaming others for his own malfeasance and dereliction of duty.
He blamed Obama and state governors for lack of ventilators and PPE for medical staff.
With NYC hospitals unable to handle the growing volume of COVID-19 patients, the US navy hospital ship deployed to the city with a capacity to handle 1,000 sick individuals has only about 20 on board.
Congress shares blame for not passing legislation for mass testing, guaranteed healthcare coverage for all Americans ill from COVID-19, and full-scale efforts to provide medical staff with PPE.
Instead, tens of millions of Americans are uninsured, most others way underinsured, the vast majority on their own to obtain healthcare at a time of a growing national epidemic.
It never should have or would have happened if federal officials prepared for what long ago was known could happen.
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My newest book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."