72ºF

Home healthcare nurse from Henry Ford says she quit because her life, patients were at risk

Nurse says she expressed safety concerns but was ignored

DETROIT – A home healthcare nurse from Henry Ford Health System said she quit her job during the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis because she was concerned about her life and the safety of her patients.

Sabine Ashman said she expressed concerns about treating coronavirus patients but was ignored.

She treated transplant and cancer patients inside their homes. Both types of patients have extremely compromised immune systems, according to experts.

Ashman said she pushed back when superiors told her she would have to start treating patients with COVID-19, as well.

“We tried to speak up, but they just kept trying to shut us up,” Ashman said.

After 10 years as a Henry Ford home healthcare nurse, Ashman quit last month when she was told to see COVID-19 patients.

“They could see COVID patients at the beginning of the day and then cross-contaminate five other healthy people,” Ashman said.

She said her concerns were not taken seriously.

“Home care did not have the right precautions before they made the decision to take COVID-19 patients,” Ashman said. “Again, you have isolation kits. Make sure they’re not listed on the same day as current patients.”

She said she filed a complaint with the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration, but the industrial hygienist specialist was satisfied with Henry Ford’s response.

“I wish that they would physically go down there and look at the paperwork,” Ashman said. “For two weeks there was good contamination going on, and that saddens me.”

In the midst of the pandemic, the mother of two said she doesn’t know what to do next.

“I’m not sure if I want to be in nursing anymore,” Ashman said. “I woudn’t mind having my own home care company -- one that’s honest and really looks out for patients.”

Ashman said she’s scared for home care and hospital nurses on the front lines.

“Definitely my life was at risk, just like my coworkers',” Ashman said. “I don’t feel like they’re doing enough still, but it’s up to my coworkers now to fight that battle."

Here is a statement from David Olejarz, the manager of media relations at Henry Ford Health System/Henry Ford Hospital:

In any health care setting, the health and safety of our patients and team members is paramount. Our team of home health care professionals care for patients recovering from illness or injury in the convenience of their home.

"Throughout this pandemic, our home health care team members have been equipped with the required personal protective equipment when caring for a COVID-19 patient discharged from the hospital. Our teams are advised not to enter a home without that equipment.

"To further reduce the risk of exposure, our team members are directed to schedule visits with COVID-19 patients and non COVID-19 patients on separate days. When that is not possible, visits with COVID-19 patients are scheduled at the end of the day. Of the nearly 2,000 patients we are caring for in their homes, 46 are recovering from the coronavirus.

“We have taken all the necessary safety precautions to protect our patients and team members during these visits. These protections were reviewed and upheld by the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration.”


About the Authors: