Press Release

Registered nurses at Tuscaloosa VA to hold Labor Day rally for patient safety during COVID-19 pandemic

Nurse holds sign "Protect Nurses, Patients, Public Health"

Registered nurses at the Tuscaloosa VA will hold a Labor Day rally on Monday, Sept. 7 to share their concerns about patient and RN safety during the COVID-19 pandemic, announced National Nurses Organizing Committee/National Nurses United (NNOC/NNU) today.

RNs at the Tuscaloosa VA say they are deeply concerned that management is not notifying nurses when they are exposed to COVID-19 and that management is forcing nurses to return to work prematurely after they have been exposed to or tested positive for the virus. Nurses know that this lack of notification and the failure to adequately test nurses prior to requiring their return to work jeopardizes the health and well-being of nurses, staff, and patients.

“We have had nurses who have tested positive for COVID-19 being told by hospital management that they need to return to work, or they will be disciplined, even though those nurses have tested positive for the virus,” said Juanetta Jemison, RN. “We know that best practices dictate that nurses must test negative at least twice with a 24-hour period between tests before they can safely return to work. No one should be forced to choose between putting their patients’ safety at risk or their own safety or livelihood at risk. We are calling on the VA management to work with us so we can ensure that our patients are safe.”

What: Rally for patient safety during the COVID-19 pandemic
When: Monday, Sept. 7, 12 p.m. to 1 p.m.
Where: Tuscaloosa VA Medical Center
             3701 Loop Road, East
             Tuscaloosa, Alabama

Nurses are also calling for transparency in the hiring process as there are concerns that nurses of color are not being considered for opportunities for advancement. They are concerned that RNs of color are often in frontline roles at the facility, which puts them most at risk for exposure to COVID-19. This issue is even more urgent because many of these nurses are members of communities that are already disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

NNOC/NNU represents 200 registered nurses at the Tuscaloosa VA. The union represents 11,500 registered nurses at 23 VA hospitals around the country.