Nurse claims she was sent home for wearing N95 mask while at work

A South Jersey nurse says that she was sent home for wearing an N95 mask while at work and not the mask provided for her.

News 12 Staff

Apr 7, 2020, 9:30 PM

Updated 1,474 days ago

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A South Jersey nurse says that she was sent home for wearing an N95 mask while at work and not the mask provided for her.
Dawn Kulach works for Virtua Voorhees. She was told that she couldn’t wear the mask and gloves that she brought from home.
“Virtua is playing a very risky game with our lives,” she says.
Kulach says that she was called into her supervisor’s office on March 31.
“She told me that I absolutely had to take off my N95 mask. I am absolutely not allowed to wear an N95 on this floor unless I’m going into a positive COVID room that requires an N95 mask and that wasn’t all of them,” she says.
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But Kulach says that her floor has patients on it that are positive with the virus. She says that she was given a mask to wear, but she describes it as “tissue paper.” She says that when she refused to take her N95 mask off, she was sent home. Kulach’s union is now stepping in.
“Here you have a nurse that’s going out of her way to protect herself and her patients and even moreso her family, and you’re basically stopping her from doing that. It just doesn’t make sense,” says JNESO District Council 1 executive director Douglas Placa.
A spokesperson from Virtua said that the hospital cannot discuss personnel matters. When asked about the company’s policy regarding N95 masks, the spokesperson said, "On March 24, Virtua introduced a policy that provides a face mask for all colleagues, clinical and non-clinical, for every shift. N95s are always provided and worn by staff caring for patients who have tested positive. On April 2, we expanded our policy to provide N95 masks for all caregivers who are providing direct care for patients awaiting COVID-19 test results."
But that policy change came two days after Kulach was sent home. Kulach has a meeting with Virtual and JNESO officials before her shift on Thursday. She says that her fight isn’t over.
"I am going to fight for our protection and if Virtua can't promise this protection for every single hospital employee I won't go back to work until they alter this. And if they have to fire me for not obeying the rules and regulations then they have to,” she says.
The JNESO union says it is prepared to do what it can to protect Kulach if she is fired.


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