This veteran nurse has been sacked after sharing a picture of her homemade face mask and speaking out about the conditions she works under amid the COVID-19 outbreak.
Nurse Renata Pizanowska was accused of spreading panic by the hospital director after she said she was having to make her own face mask and added: “I don’t have basic security to protect me or the patient. I don’t know if the patient is healthy, I don’t even know if I’m still healthy!”
Other nurses and trade union officials were quick to rally to the defence of the nurse who has worked as a midwife at the general hospital in the southern Polish city of Nowy Targ for the past 10 years.
Her post added: “This is what my hands look like after 12 hours of work, the skin is disgusting from all the disinfectant liquid… This is what my mask looks like, which I made myself, because I didn’t have one to wear, and I needed something when I bend over the patients who need my help. So, Mr. President Andrzej Duda, we don’t have everything, as you can see.”
She said however that she was shocked to find that the reaction that referenced the country’s president Duda had instead of sympathy resulted in dismissal.
She said: “The director told me that I was damaging the good name of the hospital and frightening patients, and that I had committed a serious violation of my obligations to the hospital. The hospital itself has admitted that there was a shortage of face masks and now seems to deny it. This is a crazy situation. I have always done my job well and a simple post should not be a reason for dismissal.”
Local media confirmed that the John Paul II Hospital where she worked had indeed made an appeal 4 days earlier for the provision or purchase of “disposable personal protective equipment for the hospital” specifying that this was “disposable masks and disinfecting fluid”.
She said she plans to go to court for the damage to her reputation and allegations that she had breached some sort of duty to the hospital by discussing the issue. She said, on the contrary, the hospital had the duty to make sure that there was proper protection not just the midwives but for the newborns and their mothers they are dealing with.
She said: “Patients like these require special protection.”
The woman added that many people had contacted her expressing support privately but said they were scared of speaking out themselves in case they suffered the same treatment.
Krystyna Ptok, chairwoman of the National Trade Union of Nurses and Midwives, described the situation as unacceptable. She said: “It is important that shortages are publicised, then there is greater mobilisation of employers when it comes to providing protection measures. We all know that there are not enough resources available.”
She added that it would have been enough to have a private word with the nurse without taking the decision to dismiss her, especially given that she was no doubt under an enormous workload and worried about many things given the current crisis.
She added: “We nurses are at the very forefront of tackling these problems and it’s our duty to make sure patients are safe, doing everything from collecting blood to taking swabs. The way the hospital management reacted in this case is outrageous.”
Meanwhile the director of the hospital, Marek Wierzba, defended the move saying: “We have the right to demand more from our qualified medical staff and hospital employees them from ordinary people. Responsibility, reliability and making sure the right message is passed on. This woman’s post is more likely to send panic then solve anything, and given the current circumstances it is deplorable.”
He added that the hospital had more than enough personal protective equipment and that the loss of the nurse would also not bring them in problems as they have more than enough doctors and nurses to deal with patients.
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