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Mercy nurse wants other nurses tested on the spot at their own hospital

(KY3)
Published: Apr. 7, 2020 at 4:34 PM CDT
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Some Mercy hospital workers report they could not get tested for COVID-19 at their own workplace, and were instead told to go home and self-isolate and call their Primary Care doctor.

Mercy, however, says they have four options for employees to get tested, and feel like this nurse's situation must have been an unfortunate mistake.

"I would like it if being put at risk, I would be taken care of by my employer," said a long time nurse at Mercy Springfield Hospital who doesn't want to be identified.

The frustration KY3 News was hearing was from a handful of nurses-- who say they know they were exposed to the coronavirus on the clock, yet instead of being tested at their own workplace, they were sent away to their doctor's office.

Some Mercy nurses say they feel like that needs to change, and they want to feel like their workplace has their back, especially during a time when they are putting their health on the line.

Mercy says they are doing everything they can to support their employees. There are around 10,000 Mercy employees in the Springfield area.

One nurse speaking on the basis of anonymity says she works with COVID-19 patients, and recently started to show symptoms consistent with the virus. She asked to be tested at Mercy, and was denied.

"I was told that I needed to stay home for 7 days and monitor my symptoms and I asked them what if I got worse, and I need to have testing what I should do-- and they told me if I didn't carry their insurance, then I would be on my own," she explained. "I felt like I'm an employee who had been around it at work and that was a really hard thing to hear that I would be on my own."

In a statement the hospital says, "We are following CDC guidelines, and want to quickly test co-workers who have COVID-19 symptoms. Our Co-worker Health team is taking calls 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to answer their questions and refer them for testing. In addition, we’ve enacted two weeks of additional paid time off for any co-worker who gets sick during this time, whether it’s with COVID-19 or another illness. We want to ensure that all our co-workers stay home if they’re sick and do not have to worry about having enough paid time off. Co-workers who believe they have had issues getting tested should contact Human Resources for help."

This nurse was referred to her primary care doctor who had concerns.

"He was actually the one that urged me to call my employer to see if they would cover something like that. My doctor advised to me go to Cox and I was able to get help for free."

The Mercy nurse headed down the road; her test came back negative,

But she says she's not the only one, and desperately hopes the situation changes for all hospital employees.

"I really do hope that because we haven't reached even the peak of what this is going to be and I hope that other people who find themselves in this situation are better taken care of."

A similar scenario happened at a busy New York hospital. Some staffers said they couldn't get coronavirus tests even after a nurse died from the virus at Mount Sinai Hospital. After a news report and some nurses protesting, the Mount Sinai Hospital system says starting Tuesday, it will provide tests to all employees who have developed symptoms consistent with COVID-19.

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