Nurse Suspended After Using GoFundMe To Buy Protective Supplies For Hospital

by Cassandra Stone
Originally Published: 
Respiratory mask on desk in office
Sebastian Condrea/Getty

Hospital administrators suspended the nurse for distributing ‘unauthorized’ protective gear

Hospitals across the country are finding themselves in dire need of Personal Protective Equipment as COVID-19 is beginning to peak in areas with dense populations. A New Jersey nurse was suspended after she used GoFundMe to raise $12,000 to buy personal protective equipment for the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center’s ICU department where she works.

According to ProPublica, the nurse, Olga Matievskaya, used some of the GoFundMe donations to purchase about 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 150 jumpsuits for intensive care nurses to protect themselves and their patients from spreading the virus.

But rather than thanking the staff, hospital administrators on Saturday suspended Matievskaya for distributing “unauthorized” protective gear.

Matievskaya said she had been able to purchase most of what the nurses needed on eBay. She and three of her colleagues — who spoke to ProPublica on the condition of anonymity — said the hospital administrators neglected to provide the supplies needed for protection. According to Matievskaya and her fellow nurses, there was “no information distributed” saying that purchasing supplies was prohibited.

The fundraiser states the following: “PPE are desperately and urgently needed for health care frontliners staff in ICU/CCU. Money will be used to order overalls, shoe covers, masks, filters for respirators, sanitizers and wipes.”

“We are spreading it, and we are getting it,” said one of the nurses about coronavirus. There are nurses in the ICU caring for both coronavirus patients and those with other ailments. “We understand this is what we signed up for,” one ICU nurse shared with ProPublica. “Just provide us with sufficient (protective equipment) so we can give these patients the optimal care that they need, and so we aren’t contaminating others or ourselves.”

In a responding statement, the hospital says that Matievskaya’s suspension ended Monday of this week. “No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital,” the statement said. “The nurse in question was temporarily suspended for inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies, against this policy.”

ProPublica reports that Newark Beth Israel had $186 million in net assets, according to its 2017 tax forms. It paid its chief executive officer Darrell Terry more than $1.4 million in salary and compensation, the documents show.

Francis Giantomasi, the chairman of the hospital’s board of trustees, said the problem isn’t a lack of money. Gowns, masks, and other PPE “are in short supply everywhere and needed by everyone,” Giantomasi says. “That’s a serious, troubling, undeniable reality.”

One of the nurses says that if the hospital can afford to pay its CEO so well, then it should be able to go on eBay and purchase supplies for the staff without issue.

In the statement, the hospital blamed the problem on the way supplies are distributed. “No one person, institution, or hospital can independently correct this global supply shortage.”

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