A New Jersey nurse has been suspended for using GoFundMe to raise more than $12,000 to purchase PPE (personal protective equipment) for herself and colleagues at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center in New Jersey. Instead of seeing Olga Matievskaya’s work as a good thing, hospital administrators thought it would be better to suspend her instead, ProPublica reports.
- Matievskaya works in intensive care and wanted to ensure everyone was safe. She and her fellow nurses were desperate for protective equipment like gowns and masks in order to protect themselves from COVID-19, so Matievskaya took to GoFundMe to crowdsource the funds to purchase some on her own. Altogether, she raised $12,485, which is amazing!
- She was able to purchase a lot of PPE. Matiesvskaya says that she used the money raised to purchase about 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers, and 150 jumpsuits from eBay. All of the nurses in the Newark Beth Israel ICU department were overjoyed at being able to protect themselves, but the hospital administrators weren’t quite so thrilled.
- Matievskaya was suspended for distributing “unauthorized” protective gear. While I get that there are very strict standards in place at hospitals when it comes to safety, at this point, I would think any protective equipment was better than none at all, so this is ridiculous. Suspending an invaluable nurse doing incredible work right now doesn’t just seem shortsighted, it’s downright stupid, and Matievskaya deserves an apology and a thank you.
- She hasn’t commented on her suspension but four of her colleagues have anonymously. According to statements made to ProPublica, Matievskaya and her fellow nurses have never been provided with any PPE by hospital staff. Two of those who spoke out work in ICU with the illest patients and two work in other departments. They applauded Matievskaya for her leadership and said they were never told that getting their own protective items was in some way prohibited.
- Newark Beth Isreal official knew they were in the wrong and reinstated Matievskaya by Monday. In a statement to ProPublica, a hospital spokesperson said, “No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital. The nurse in question was temporarily suspended for inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies, against this policy.” They also insisted all staff has the protection they need. “We are working 24-hours a day, 7-days a week to ensure that the appropriate PPE gets to the right staff, at the right time,” the statement continued.
- Don’t nurses any other hospital staff have the right to protect themselves? Telling staff to reuse equipment if there is any in the first place but prohibiting them from getting their own is absolutely ridiculous. Matievskaya did what she believed was the right thing and it seems everyone is standing behind her. Hopefully we can all learn something important from this and begin to value our frontline workers more, not to mention take steps to ensure they’re protected.