NYC Health + Hospitals requires nurses to have physician's note after 1 absence

New York City-based NYC Health + Hospitals' new practice requiring documentation for sick leave starting on the first day of leave has sparked opposition from nurses, according to NY1.

The New York State Nurses Association estimates about 50 nurses rallied against the new policy April 17 at the public health system's Jacobi Medical Center.

"Nurses have been on the front lines fighting this pandemic with limited access to PPE," the union said. "Many nurses have gotten sick, and some have died. The city, state and federal government failed to test and properly quarantine healthcare workers, and now nurses are being told to violate social distancing and increase the burden on our healthcare system by obtaining a doctor's note for when nurses stay home.

"Nurses are saying enough is enough," the union said.

Under NYC Health + Hospitals' former leave policy, employees were required to provide documentation for sick leave starting on the third day of leave.

In a memo obtained by NY1, the health system told employees the new policy was implemented due to a high number of call-outs and absences that don't appear to be consistent with COVID-19 infection patterns.

NYC Health + Hospitals said front-line healthcare workers also must regularly monitor their temperature, and if they become ill, stay home and undergo a period of  isolation for seven days. During the last 72 hours of isolation, the worker must be fever-free without medications, and other symptoms must show improvement before a return to work.

The health system said it also has started offering free COVID-19 tests to its employees, implemented multiple safe child care arrangements, and has made hotel rooms available for employees who work directly with COVID-19 patients and are worried about infecting their families. 

"At NYC Health + Hospitals, our priority remains the safety and wellness of our fearless nursing workforce," the health system said in an emailed statement. "Every day and night our nurses come to work and dedicate themselves to their patient's care, treatment, and support."

Regarding PPE, NYC Health + Hospitals said it has implemented personal protective equipment  conservation efforts and is working to secure more.

"However, all staff who need PPE has access to it," the health system said.


More articles on workforce:
Virginia Mason Memorial cuts nonmedical employees' hours
Amazon eyes building COVID-19 testing lab for employees
COVID-19 & healthcare professionals: What the latest CDC data shows 


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