Nurses say changing guidelines, unsafe conditions are pushing them to quit

Some front-line nurses have decided to quit their jobs, citing inadequate protection against the novel coronavirus and fear for their safety, along with that of their families, according to NBC News.

Nearly 10,000 healthcare workers have tested positive for COVID-19, according to a CDC survey conducted Feb. 12 to April 9. Actual numbers are estimated to be much higher due to slow data collection and a high number of asymptomatic cases. At least 79 nurses have died from COVID-19, the American Nurses Association said May 7.

Many nurses said new CDC protocols haven't prioritized their safety and have made them feel expendable. As N95 mask supply dwindled, commercial grade masks, surgical masks and, in some cases, homemade masks were all recommended by the CDC, which did not return a request for comment from NBC News. The new guidelines are not backed up by research showing such masks offer protection from the virus.

Kelly Stanton, RN, a former nurse at a Washington, D.C.-area hospital with 28 years of experience, said the hospital she worked at gave nurses limited access to an already low stockpile of protective equipment and asked nurses to reuse single-use masks. Each time a safety regulation changed, Ms. Stanton said she began to feel more like "a sheep sent to slaughter." By late March, she resigned.

"Things they were telling us we had to now do, you would've been fired if we did that three weeks before," Ms. Stanton told NBC News. "How is this suddenly OK?"

A survey of more than 1,200 nurses from over 400 hospitals found that 61 percent of respondents said they are planning to quit either their jobs or the profession altogether, according to results published April 9 by Holliblu, an online community for nurses.

"We didn't sign up to be sacrificial lambs. We didn't sign up to fight a deadly disease without adequate resources," Rebecca, a nurse in Albuquerque, N.M., told NBC News.  

The consequential psychological effect on nurses will be profound and long-lasting, according to Liz Stokes, RN, director of the ANA Center for Ethics and Human Rights. "Nurses were already burned out before, and this pandemic might push many of them completely out." 

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