Doctors say hospitals are stopping them from wearing masks
| April 2, 2020
NPR – Neilly Buckalew is a traveling doctor who fills in at hospitals when there’s need.
So in the midst of this pandemic, she feels particularly vulnerable to contracting the coronavirus — not just in hospitals but in hotels and on her travels.
When she got an assignment last week at Saint Alphonsus Regional Rehabilitation Hospital in Boise, Idaho, she packed her own personal protective equipment and drove to town.
She disinfected her hotel room and stayed away from other guests, but worried about the coughing person in the room next door. So she donned her own fitted N95 mask that she uses for work.
“I wanted to protect myself,” she said. “I wanted to protect my patients.”
That first day at work, Buckalew said, she was told to take off her mask.
When she asked hospital administrators why, the reasons kept changing.
First, Buckalew said she was told it was against hospital policy for health care workers to bring their own gear.
Then, she said, administrators told her if she wore her own N95 mask, others would want to wear the masks as well and the hospital didn’t have enough.
Finally, Buckalew said, it was that CDC guidelines don’t require the mask at all times.
“I said if I can’t wear it, then we have a problem,” she said.
Refusing to take off her mask, she said, got her terminated. Then, she said, after complaining she was reinstated and then terminated again — all within three days.
“I’m raising a huge big stink because it’s wrong. It’s unsafe. We’ll never flatten the curve if hospital systems keep acting this way,” she said, adding that she’s speaking now because she’s already lost her assignment and wanted to speak on behalf of those who can’t. “A lot of people can’t speak out because they’re afraid, or they know that they’ll be fired … ” Read more.