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NYC’s Plan to Protect Medical Staff From Retaliation for Speaking Out

Health-care workers have been a primary source for exposing the challenges of treating coronavirus. But they still face losing their jobs over whistleblowing.
Nurses hold signs during a demonstration for increased personal protection equipment outside Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.
Nurses hold signs during a demonstration for increased personal protection equipment outside Montefiore Hospital in the Bronx.David Dee Delgado/Bloomberg

“I am not safe,” wrote an ICU nurse from Michigan. The nurse’s hospital, Michigan Medicine, was asking most staff to forgo wearing more sophisticated N95 masks, and barring them from bringing in their own personal protective equipment (PPE), they said. “There is a fine line between essential employees and sacrificial staff,” the nurse wrote. “By not allowing us to wear our own gear, the hospital is being negligent and disrespectful to every single person who is putting their life on the line to help these sick patients.”

This searing op-ed was published in The Michigan Daily anonymously, because its author said they feared retaliation for speaking up about safety concerns. Front-line health-care workers across the U.S. have been fired from their jobs after speaking to the press about conditions in their hospitals, or raising the alarm among their professional and social networks. New York health systems like Mount Sinai and NYU Langone Health are enforcing gag orders on their staff.