University Hospitals nurse fired for calling in sick with flu: 4 things to know

Theresa Puckett, RN, a temporary nurse at Cleveland-based University Hospitals, was fired for taking two sick days after catching the flu, reports WSMV.

Here are four things to know.

1. Ms. Puckett took one sick day at the end of 2017. She returned to work soon after, but a superior sent her home as she was still symptomatic. "I was putting in my cough drops, I was drinking my water," Ms. Puckett told WSMV. "I mean the whole nine yards just to patch myself up enough to go to work."

2. While Ms. Puckett had a doctor's note recommending she should not interact with patients, UH fired her per the hospital's attendance policy, which says temporary nurses may be let go after two unapproved absences in 60 days.

"When it happened to me, and I really truly was too sick to go to work, I was punished for that," Ms. Puckett told WSMV. "I was punished for staying home with a doctor's note."

3. The hospital told WSMV "notes from a physician do not 'excuse' an occurrence of absence" and said the attendance policy falls in line with those at many other health systems nationwide.

4. UH also said it asks employees to stay home when they are sick to protect the health of patients and hospital workers.

"We realize that our healthcare professionals who care for our patients occasionally need time off to care for themselves," a UH spokesman told Becker's Hospital Review. "UH has a reasonable and competitive attendance policy. For full-time and part-time employees, counseling begins after six unscheduled absences within 12 months, and nine absences may result in termination. PRN, or as-needed, employees work fewer shifts than regularly scheduled employees and may be removed from on-roll status after two occurrences of unscheduled absences within a 60-day period."

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