News & Politics

Forget PPE, Oregon COVID Nurse Calls for J-O-B After Dozens Got Laid Off. They're Not Alone.

(Facebook Screenshot/Johanna Jepson Downs)

Here’s the story you haven’t been told. Doctors are sidelined. Surgeons can’t work. And nurses are getting laid off all through the country. The nurses we’re all concerned about having enough PPE need a J-O-B.

I have a family member who sits at home in Seattle unable to work and who is still paying off her medical school loans (some medical school loans aren’t being deferred or given forbearance). She’s a plastic surgeon and isn’t vital to helping COVID patients so she’s “non-essential.” She is vital to her family, though. Hospitals won’t let her operate.

Cancer doctors aren’t COVID doctors, but they’re sure not expendable to those who must have treatment. Who won’t be diagnosed in time because doctors aren’t working?

Fox News this week highlighted an orthopedic surgeon whose patients can’t walk without surgery but the local constraints on hospitals won’t allow any non-COVID related surgery. He’s “non-essential,” so patients sit home, in pain, without surgery.

USA Today reports,

[T]housands of health care workers across the nation who have been laid off, furloughed or are working reduced hours as their services are deemed nonessential and patients skip routine visits during an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, based on reporting from advocacy groups and from news stories from across the nation.

As routine patient visits decline amid stay-at-home orders, thousands of health care professionals lack work.

USA Today reports that at the beginning of the month, 800, 000 medical employees were expected to be laid off. Another 60,000 family practices will close or work on a skeleton schedule.

A friend of mine can attest to that. He was just furloughed until further notice because he works for a dental technology company and dentists can’t work so there’s no demand for his company’s instruments.

Monster.com has issued an advisory to medical professionals that furloughs are coming and to not take it personally.

Portland, Ore., nurse Josie Jepson Alexander’s Facebook post about being laid off Tuesday after caring for COVID-19 patients has put a human face on the problem.

Hey, Oregonians. I just got laid off. I am a nurse at a major hospital [Legacy medical system] in Portland. My entire hospital is laying off a ton of nurses because we are in financial crisis. We have zero patients. Our hospital has been dead. … [We] had nine COVID patients at the highest surge. Right now I think we have one. We had a handful a couple days ago.

Alexander told me that people have been staying home to make sure health care workers are protected. But COVID-19 cases in this outbreak are going down and now her employer of five years is going into “financial crisis” because they won’t allow any surgeries under a month-old order from Kate Brown, the governor. She believes that the surge in COVID-19 cases occurred around March 23, the day Brown locked down the state, but it wasn’t apparent until the number of hospitalizations began dwindling.

If you can’t see that this thing is ridiculous then you need to have a come-to-Jesus moment. Your come-to-Jesus-moment is right now. I’m a nurse, I work with COVID patients. I just got laid off. Because the State of Oregon has just had a major power grab, major overreach, complete tyranny and I’m the one who’s supposed to be working…. What is going on? If the nurses don’t have jobs then is there a problem? If we really have a pandemic here in Oregon … do we? I don’t think so.

As an “on-call” nurse, she would get her schedule six weeks in advance, but now even staff nurses have been put on “stand-by” mode because there’s so little work. Alexander says because she’s “on-call” she probably won’t qualify for unemployment. And don’t tell her to go to New York, they’re turning away nurses now.

Alexander says it’s time to start opening up the economy:

I think there are absolute measurable goals, small things that we can do to open up businesses. Social distancing, limit the number of customers. Like I said, hospitals could open up for surgeries. That’s our bread and butter. Surgeries: open them up.

Because the numbers are going down. And that’s a good thing. Governor Kate Brown and other governors might want to update their data.

My RN sister just got LAID OFF due to COVID19Here is her reaction. Please share#getyoasstoworkoregon

Posted by Johanna Jepson Downs on Tuesday, April 21, 2020