Nurse helps raise $12K for protective gear, gets suspended by hospital for passing it out

An ICU nurse who helped raise more than $12,000 through a GoFundMe campaign to buy personal protective equipment for staff at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center has been suspended by the hospital for distributing the "unauthorized" gear, ProPublica reports.

Olga Matievskaya, RN, used some of the money to buy 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 150 jumpsuits on eBay and distributed them to her colleagues last week. While she declined to comment to ProPublica after her suspension, four other nurses spoke to the publication about the hospital's gear shortage on the condition of anonymity.

The nurses confirmed there was a significant shortage of protective gear and applauded Ms. Matievskaya, saying she had shown leadership in keeping employees and patients safe when their hospital administration had not. 

Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, which is based in New Jersey, confirmed the suspension and said it was necessary.

"No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital," Newark Beth Israel told ProPublica. "The nurse in question was temporarily suspended for inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies, against this policy."

Ms. Matievskaya is not the only worker who has faced disciplinary actions after speaking out or attempting to do something about a lack of personal protective equipment, exemplifying the growing tension between front-line medical providers and hospital administrators on the subject.

For example, a nurse at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in Chicago sued the hospital, claiming she was fired after warning co-workers that the surgical masks they were given were less effective than N95 respirators. 

Access the full ProPublica article here.

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