'We're disappointed': Advocate Aurora responds to unmasked nurse at Wisconsin bar

Milwaukee and Downers Grove, Ill.-based Advocate Aurora Health is expressing disappointment about a video of one of its nurses at a crowded Wisconsin bar, according to WGN-TV.

Nurse Katie Koutsky visited Limanski's Pub in West Allis, Wis., on May 13, after the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturned the state's stay-at-home order.

She told a news crew from WTMJ-TV: "I have a toddler at home and I'm a full-time nurse. It's been very stressful and hard to not go out and be with my friends and family at the bars."

According to WGN, which posted a video of Ms. Koutsky's news interview, people in the bar were nearly shoulder-to-shoulder, and most, including Ms. Koutsky, didn't have masks on.

When asked if she was worried about possible exposure to COVID-19, Ms. Koutsky said, "I don't think the risk presents any higher than going to a grocery store."

Ms. Koutsky's employer, Advocate Aurora, provided a statement to Becker's Hospital Review in response to the incident, expressing disappointment.

"Given the ongoing education and safety measures we are fully committed to, we're disappointed," the statement reads. "The health and safety of our patients, team members and our community are our highest priorities."

Mary Beth Kingston, PhD, RN, chief nursing officer of Advocate Aurora, said during a virtual town hall after the incident that the health system takes a number of precautions, such as screening all employees before their shifts, ensuring appropriate safety measures are followed and educating workers about safety outside the hospital, according to WGN. She said the health system will "be following up with individual nurses as needed."

Ms. Koutsky also issued a statement May 15 following media reports about the bar incident.

She said her priority was to support her sister and her efforts to restart her bar amid the pandemic, but she regrets certain actions.

"I'd like to express my regret for not wearing a mask or practicing social distancing while there. It was a lapse in judgment on my part to not ensure I had my mask prior to leaving my house and to not maintain social distancing — even during the interview requested by the reporter," Ms. Koutsky wrote.

"As a nurse, I understand the fear and uncertainty everyone is facing and how important it is to practice safety measures not only at sites of care, but while away from work," she added. "I let my guard down and apologize for making anyone feel uncomfortable or at risk. While I do not have any COVID-19 symptoms and there are no indications of exposure, out of an abundance of caution, I am voluntarily self-quarantining for the next seven days. As standard practice at my hospital, I will undergo screening before returning to work."

This story was updated at 5:15 p.m. CDT on May 17.


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