Munson nurses allege hospital is not protecting them during onset of COVID-19 | Michigan Radio
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Munson nurses allege hospital is not protecting them during onset of COVID-19

Mar 17, 2020

Munson Medical Center in Traverse City
Credit Courtesy photo

Nurses at Munson Medical Center say the hospital has not provided adequate paid time off for them if exposed or infected by COVID-19.

This comes on the heels of the first two cases reported at Munson Medical Center, one in Traverse City and one in Gaylord.

The cases were reported late Monday night.

They’re also concerned that Munson is not taking enough precautions for nurses who are at greater risk of catching the virus, including those 60 and older, nurses with immunodeficiencies and pregnant nurses.

If nurses don’t have enough PTO, they were told they can borrow up to 80 hours of PTO from the hospital, says Munson Registered Nurse Carolyn Moss, who is also the President of the Traverse City Munson Nurses Association.

That’s what a Munson attorney told them Monday morning, she says.

“So essentially, they are saying the nurses would be allowed to go into what they’re calling a ‘negative balance’ on their vacation time, so essentially going into debt for the hospital,” Moss says.

Munson Nurses Association — which is a union under the Michigan Nurses Association — made a proposal to the hospital two weeks ago about how to handle COVID-19, Moss says.

“None of these have been accepted by the medical center, nor have we received any kind of counter proposal,” Moss says.

The proposal asked for protections and alternative assignments for vulnerable nurses. It also asked for Munson Compliance with Occupational Safety and Health Administration work requirements while treating COVID patients and a guarantee that the hospital would not make nurses work without CDC approved equipment and would provide training.

Munson nurses also proposed the hospital apply the State Paid Medical Leave Act to nurses that’s currently applied to non-unionized hourly employees but not nurses.

Munson’s Director of Human Resources Lona Litson says the hospital hasn’t communicated anything yet and that changing legislation may expand benefits.

“We are currently in the process of developing policies, but we’re also looking at what legislation will come down the pike as well,” Litson says. “We have not communicated anything above the policies we have in place right now.”

Moss says the nurses have been trying to work with the hospital.

“We are trying to work collaboratively with them,” she says. “The only way we can get them to move is when they’re publicly embarrassed.”

Liston says the safety of Munson patients and staff is always the top priority.

“We have standard practices in place that does treat the safety of our employees as top priority,” Liston says. “We are also making adjustments to take care of our employees.”

She says those adjustments are being developed and will be available to staff soon.

When asked about at risk nurses to COVID-19, Liston said “our managers are aware of those groups who are at higher risk with COVID-19 and are making assignments accordingly.”

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