Nurses Picket in Bemidji Over Working Conditions Amid COVID-19
On April 14th, Bemidji nurse Tonya Moss was placed on administrative leave. She claims it was because she raised interest in finding alternate housing for nurses not wanting to quarantine in their own homes.
Sanford Health says administrative leave just gives them a chance to investigate any incidents or issues further. Sanford also stated that as many health care systems nationwide turn to layoffs during this time, Sanford has not.
The nurses chose to host an informational picket to get the word out about Tonya Moss and also to raise awareness about nurses receiving the right PPE, or personal protective equipment.
A picket differs from a strike in a few key ways. Picketers must give notice 10 days in advance, and no one is walking off of the job. Nurses hope this demonstration reaches beyond Sanford Health and sends a message to the state at large.
Over 40 people gathered today to show their support for nurses in Bemidji. They wore masks and stood six feet apart. Attending the demonstration was Bemidji mayor Rita Albrecht, who hopes that the hospital and nurses will work together to find a solution.
There has not yet been a COVID-19 positive patient in Sanford’s hospital in Bemidji. The hospital says they are well prepared in the event of an influx of patients.
Moss says she believes that Sanford is prepared with PPE but wanted to stand up for hospitals around the state that are running out.
There have been 12 cases of COVID-19 reported in Beltrami County so far with no hospitalizations needed.