CHICAGO (CBS) — Some health care workers on the front lines of the war on the coronavirus feel they are not being sufficiently protected.
As CBS 2’s Charlie De Mar reported Tuesday night, a nurse at the University of Chicago Medical Center said he understands the risk he is taking. But he said he expects to be informed if they’ve been in contact with a patient who has tested positive for COVID-19.
But a new internal memo has created some confusion and concern.
Hand-drawn signs planted in front of the U of C emergency room reading, “Thank you to all U of C staff,” make sure healthcare workers know they are appreciated as they fight COVID-19.
Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker echoed that same message Tuesday afternoon.
“Health care workers are being overworked. There’s no doubt about it,” Pritzker said. “They’re doing heroic, amazing work every day.
But U of C Comer Children’s Hospital pediatric intensive care nurse Brian Kelly said, “We’re not pleased at all.”
He has some concerns over a recent memo sent to staff.
“I just don’t understand this memo,” Kelly said. “They really have a responsibility, I would think, to make sure that we know.”
The memo reads effective immediately, the hospital “will not be contacting people who cared for or were exposed to COVID-19 patients.”
“I feel like it’s telling me that it’s my responsibility to find out if I’ve been exposed,” Kelly said.
The email was authored by Dr. Emily Landon – the same infectious diseases expert who spoke last Friday as the governor announced a statewide stay-at-home order.
“This is the only way forward,” Landon, lead epidemiologist at University of Chicago Medicine, said Friday. “This virus is unforgiving. It spreads before you even know you’ve caught it, and it tricks you into believing that it’s nothing more than a little influenza.”
She also said, “Things are already tough in Illinois hospitals, including mine.”
Kelly, a nurse of nearly 20 years, wans the U of C – the hospital where he works – to tell him if he has come in contact with a patient who have tested positive so he can then take the safest precautions.
“Perhaps there’s some epidemiological science behind it. I cannot say. I really cannot understand it…. If we’re not kept safe, we cannot keep the community safe,” Kelly said.
A U of C hospital representative said she was checking to get a little more clarity on what that internal memo meant – and if it might mean the reporting process might be taken over by a different part of the hospital. But as of 10 p.m., the representative still had not gotten clarity.