KALAMAZOO, Mich. (WOOD) — Some nurses at Ascension Borgess in Kalamazoo are calling out the hospital’s parent company for allegedly forcing them to work with COVID-19 patients in the pandemic hot spot of Detroit.
The Michigan Nurses Association said Ascension Health notified employees that mandatory reassignments would begin immediately and continue until the state and national state of emergency declarations are lifted.
“They were very upset,” said Jamie Brown, critical care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital and a president of the Michigan Nurses Association. “They have mandated five of our lower senior nurses, which means they have less experience, to go over and work over there.”
Brown said the mandatory reassignments were handed down after 14 of 17 nurses backed out of volunteering. She added the incentives to head east weren’t enough for them.
“That’s what should have happened – Ascension should be working with us. No one wants to be forced to leave their home and family like this. We want to be partners, not pawns,” Brown stated.
She says the company indicated relocated nurses would receive lodging, food and reimbursement for mileage. She said they are offering workers $2 more an hour to leave but can’t guarantee they would be provided with personal protective equipment.
“We have been trying to bargain with them so we get the guarantees we need for the nurses to stay safe,” said Brown.
In a statement to News 8, Ascension Michigan spokesman Chris Hunt said the company has not “implemented any mandatory reassignments to southeast Michigan, but as we continue to navigate providing care during this global pandemic, emergency response plans are in place.”
Workers tell News 8 the hospital sent them a letter saying otherwise, stating “the mandatory reassignments will begin immediately.”
“We need Ascension to do the right thing for the nurses,” said Brown.