Hospitals are threatening to fire health-care workers who publicize their working conditions during the coronavirus pandemic — and have in some cases followed through.
Ming Lin, an emergency room physician in Washington state, said he was told Friday he was out of a job because he’d given an interview to a newspaper about a Facebook post detailing what he believed to be inadequate protective equipment and testing. In Chicago, a nurse was fired after emailing colleagues that she wanted to wear a more protective mask while on duty. In New York, the NYU Langone Health system has warned employees they could be terminated if they talk to the media without authorization.
“Hospitals are muzzling nurses and other health-care workers in an attempt to preserve their image,” said Ruth Schubert, a spokeswoman for the Washington State Nurses Association. “It is outrageous.”
Hospitals have traditionally had strict media guidelines to protect patient privacy, urging staff to talk with journalists only through official public relations offices. But the pandemic has ushered in a new era, Schubert said.
Health-care workers “must have the ability to tell the public what is really going on inside the facilities where they are caring for Covid-19 patients,” she said. [Continue reading…]
In recent years, doctors have felt increasingly like employees working for cost-cutting companies putting profit ahead of medicine. That tension appears to have found an almost volcanic moment with the coronavirus pandemic.
“There’s been a loss of autonomy and a denigration going on for a couple of decades now. We’ll take a lot,” said Dr. Christopher Garofalo, a family doctor in North Attleboro, Mass, who holds several regional leadership positions in medicine, including serving as the state’s delegate to the American Medical Association. More than half of physicians now are employees of hospital systems or big groups, he said, a systemic change that has left doctors feeling less empowered and frustrated.
Covid-19, he said, “is causing it to erupt.”
Doctors at a handful of institutions provided communications from administrators that show a face-off with doctors.
An email sent from a midlevel manager at the Cleveland Clinic, one of the nation’s elite hospitals, to a group of doctors warned them not to “go rogue” and wear surgical masks around the hospital. “These are emotional times, and we need to control our emotions,” it said. [Continue reading…]