MASKS — WSNA is aware that many of you are being asked reuse masks that have been stored in baggies, to continue to wear the same conta­m­i­nated mask out into hallways and among multiple patients, to go without masks during proce­dures or events that could cause you to come in contact with conta­m­i­nated body fluids and to take poten­tially conta­m­i­nated masks home. On Thursday, March 12, WSNA filed a complaint on your behalf with Labor and Indus­tries alleging that Children’s has failed to furnish nurses a place of employ­ment free from recog­nized hazards that are causing or likely to cause serious injury or death. 

As you are aware, we are in a declared national disaster emergency situa­tion and are experi­encing severe short­ages of masks. WSNA is working with state and national agencies to get clear standard­ized guidance on conser­va­tion strate­gies for the use of masks including to the level of how to make and launder your own masks during this time of shortage. We will keep you informed about the direc­tions we receive. Your nurse rep and Chair, Edna Cortez, have also been in contact with Children’s admin­is­tra­tion. At this time, the hospital is stating that masks are avail­able for use when indicated. If you feel you have been denied the use of a mask where there is a risk of exposure to any commu­ni­cable disease, please continue to promptly escalate your concerns through your appro­priate chain of command but also please contact WSNA and fill out an ADO. 

What can you do if you are denied appro­priate protec­tive gear or face another high-risk situa­tion? You may have to make a decision about accepting an assign­ment involving abnor­mally dangerous condi­tions that pose an imminent risk to your safety and health and could poten­tially cause serious injury or death. If you have already accepted the assign­ment your profes­sional license may be at risk if you fail to continue that assign­ment, unless you have handed off the assign­ment and been relieved of respon­si­bility for the patient. If you decide to refuse the assign­ment, you should remain at the workplace and offer to perform other work that does not pose an imminent risk to your safety and health (e.g., an assign­ment for which you are provided proper safety equip­ment and training). A decision to refuse an assign­ment could result in disci­pli­nary action taken against you by the employer. Under the collec­tive bargaining agree­ment between the employer and WSNA, there must be just cause” for any disci­pline. WSNA would defend you if you are subjected to unjust disci­pline, but resolu­tion of any such disci­pline would likely be delayed and the outcome may be uncer­tain as a result of the current national and state emergency declarations. 

QUARAN­TINED OR PLACED ON LOW CENSUS? WSNA has heard from a number of you related to Children’s direc­tives requiring nurses to remain at home due to travel, illness or other situa­tions. We are also aware of signif­i­cant low census situa­tions as routine OR cases and proce­dures are cancelled. On Friday March 13 , WSNA presented Children’s with a Memorandum of Under­standing that we asked Children’s to agree to. Similar to the OR mold closures where Children’s found other work for nurses or paid them if there was no work, we were asking them to do the same in this situa­tion. While we under­stand the travel quaran­tine for nurses who have been in areas that are not identi­fied as level 3 category by the CDC has been lifted, we remain concerned that the hospital is requiring nurses to draw from their leaves for the time they were told to stay home. WSNA believes you should be paid and not have to use your leave when the hospital requires you to stay home. The MOU also would require the hospital to promptly notify nurses if they are exposed to COVID-19. It also provides some language for those nurses who fall into high risk categories and may need accom­mo­da­tions or to stay home during this period. Children’s notified us today that they are not inter­ested in discussing the MOU. WSNA is disap­pointed that the hospital has elected to not engage with us on these impor­tant matters.

Reminder — your contract requires that if you are required to stay home as a result of any workplace exposure to a commu­ni­cable disease, that time off is paid by the hospital and does NOT require you to use your leave. Please contact WSNA ASAP if your leave bank has been accessed in this situa­tion. You should also consider applying for one of the state benefits if you are placed on low census or required to stay home. Please visit https://​esd​.wa​.gov/​n​e​w​s​r​o​o​m/covid-19 or the COVID-19 links on this website for more information. 

Questions? Please contact your nurse rep or one of you local unit officers- Sara Frey JD BSN RN 206.575.7979 ext. 3039