Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, New Jersey suspended ICU nurse for buying $12,000 of ‘unauthorized’ PPE using GoFundMe donations from supporters
Nurse Olga Matievskaya was punished for joining the battle to alleviate the constraints on healthcare workers increasingly concerned because of the ravages of the coronavirus on their own ranks
The risk posed to the sector is compounded by the lack of testing and personal protective gear [PPE]
Matievskaya purchased and distributed 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 400 caps from the money donated on her GoFundMe page
The hospital placed her on temporary suspension for ‘inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies’
Matievskaya led a team of 12 other fundraisers, setting up the page a week ago, now shutdown after she was suspended
The nurse shut down her GoFundMe page after she was suspended by her employer for distributing “unauthorized medical supplies
In a statement to ProPublica, a spokesman for Newark Beth Israel Medical Center confirmed that Nurse Matievskaya was suspended after she distributed the 500 masks, 4,000 shoe covers and 400 caps from the money donated on her GoFundMe page.
She was placed on temporary suspension for ‘inappropriately distributing unauthorized medical supplies’, the official statement said.
They added: ‘No employee is allowed to distribute unauthorized medical supplies within the hospital.’ However, a worker who wished to remain anonymous disputed that, telling the website: ‘There was no information distributed.’
Olga, who bought most of the equipment from eBay, had led a team of 12 other fundraisers, setting up the page a week ago.
The fundraising team explained in their message that ‘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.’
With the federal stockpile dwindling fast, and the Trump administration limiting access to what’s left, state leaders are going to extraordinary measures on their own to secure faces masks, ventilators, gloves and other equipment essential to fighting the outbreak.
These healthcare workers are concerned about the ravages of the illness in their own ranks compounded by the lack of testing and protective gear.
Mount Sinai West emergency room nurse Kious Kelly, 36, died after a 10-day bout with the disease. He worked at the same hospital where three nurses, frustrated at the scarcity of supplies, posted pictures of themselves on social media wearing makeshift garbage bag protective gowns.
Olga Matievskaya shut down her GoFundMe page after she was suspended by Newark Beth Israel for distributing “unauthorized medical supplies
Some of the staffers at Beth Israel Medical Center feel the same way as Matievskaya regarding insufficient PPE for staff. One of them said: ‘We understand this is what we signed up for. 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 some cases, nurses and administrators have disagreed about what is needed to keep them safe. The intensive care nurses said they have asked for jumpsuits, the overalls that cover their entire outfit. But administrators have told them such equipment isn’t required, they said.
Matievskaya had shared updates with donors, telling them she had managed to secure vital equipment for her colleagues.
She also said she had been able to buy care packages for medics who had displayed symptoms and were in quarantine.
How it should done: Nurses putting their names on protective clothing resting outside the Wyckoff Heights Medical Center in Brooklyn, NY
Echoing the situation, four nurses at the hospital complained that they have often not been given the N95 respirator masks the CDC has recommended to protect themselves from the virus. One of the ICU nurses said for at least one shift she received a regular surgical mask, which in her opinion is “like putting a paper towel over your face.”
It was also revealed that some nurses outside the intensive care unit at Newark Beth Israel reportedly, have been given a single surgical mask in a brown paper bag that they’re expected to use for an entire week, one nurse said.
Sticking to transparency, Matievskaya and her group have been posting pictures of the cleaning products, vitamins and care packages Olga wrote: ‘Bought Gatorade, vitamins, paper towels, flushable wipes, lemons and limes, coconut water, liquid soap and get well cards.’
In a post on April 5 one of the fundraising team wrote: ‘Thank you is not a strong enough statement for all of your generous donations. You are all amazing people!!!!
We on the front line are able to continue what we were born to do…. and that is SAFELY care for those who need us!
‘A MILLION THANK YOUS!!! God Bless you and keep you safe!’
The group had kept people updated with items they had purchased thanks to the money raised including 400 21′ White Bouffant Caps Medical Surgical Disposable cap for $48.
They also ordered 150 jumpsuits from eBay for $638. Olga added: ‘The seller gave very good price $4 a piece (normally $7).’
She also bought 4000 shoe covers for $158 and ordered 500 N95 masks $7 a piece, total $3500.
Her suspension ended Monday, the hospital confirmed.