‘I am nurse strong,’ -- As hospitals become overwhelmed, Detroit nurse fired for posting video online

Health care workers continue to be the heroes on the front lines of COVID-19. A nurse at one Michigan's hardest-hit hospitals was fired when staffing has been a consistent issue.

DETROIT – Health care workers continue to be the heroes on the coronavirus front line.

Many are sharing their stories on social media.

DMC Sinai-Grace Hospital is one of the hardest hit hospitals in the state for COVID-19. Nurses told Local 4 that staffing is an issue every day.

Kenisa Barkai, a nurse at Sinai-Grace, was fired Friday for posting a video on social media.

The Detroit Medical Center wanted to make its policy clear: it does not discuss personnel matters.

Barkai said she was let go because of a 10-second video posted almost two-weeks ago. She shared the video on her Facebook page showing the precautions taken to treat the first COVID-19 patient at the hospital.

Since that time, the coronavirus outbreak has grown significantly, overwhelming many hospitals.

Nurses at Sinai-Grace said the hospital needs more nurses as the DMC is scrambling to handle all the patients coming in.

“We have converted operating rooms, outpatient areas and recovery rooms into patient treatment areas to handle the surge," read a statement from DMC. "We are working on ways to mitigate capacity issues by moving patients from hospital to hospital within our system.”

Barkai was let go for violating the company’s social media policy and now she’s no longer fighting on the front lines.

“I don’t feel that I violated the social media policy per se," Barkai said "Especially at a time like this when everyone around the world is voicing their concerns, opinions, facts.”

When Barkai spoke to Local 4 on March 18, there were 110 confirmed cases of coronavirus in Michigan. At the time, she said she could see how the hospital needed more staffing and that she knew more sick people would flood the facility.

UPDATE March 29, 2020, 6 p.m. -- Michigan coronavirus (COVID-19) cases total 5,524; Death toll rises to 132

Barkai said she felt it was her duty to speak up.

Even after being fired, Barkai said she will continue to be a voice for nurses risking their lives on the front lines.

“I am nurse strong," Barkai said. "I know nurses are behind me. Maybe they can’t speak up, but I know they stand behind me 100%.”

Barkai established a GoFundMe page to help feed nurses during the outbreak. You can donate here.

Question about coronavirus? Ask Dr. McGeorge here.

Anyone who believes they might have coronavirus should follow the CDC guidelines. Michigan.gov has a list of resources available to those concerned about COVID-19.

More information on coronavirus (COVID-19):

About the Authors:

Local 4 Defender Shawn Ley is an Emmy award-winning journalist who has been with Local 4 News for more than a decade.

Dane is a producer and media enthusiast. He previously worked freelance video production and writing jobs in Michigan, Georgia and Massachusetts. Dane graduated from the Specs Howard School of Media Arts.