DETROIT – A nurse fired from Sinai-Grace Hospital in the midst of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic for a video she posted to social media is suing the Detroit Medical Center.
View the lawsuit below.
Kenisa Barkai was terminated last month after she posted a 7-second video on her Facebook page showing the precautions taken to treat the first COVID-19 patient at the Detroit Medical Center’s Sinai-Grace.
The hospital said Barkai violated the social media policy.
According to the lawsuit, Barkai had expressed concerns to management about the lack of personal protective equipment and staffing shortages at the end of January or early February, more than a month before the first COVID-19 cases were confirmed in Michigan. She allegedly told hospital officials she would report potential violations to government agencies.
Barkai said the hospital has been understaffed and she was concerned this would impact patient safety. She allegedly continued to share concerns to management after COVID-19 reached the state and the hospital began caring for patients with the illness.
On March 17, she posted the video of her in PPE, saying, “I have my gloves, my hair covering, my mask, my gown and I’m ready to rock and roll. I’m going in.”
The next day, she described conditions inside the hospital to Local 4. She shared concerns about PPE and fears that the hospital would become overwhelmed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Two weeks later, Barkai was fired for the video she posted on Facebook. She maintains that the video did not violate the hospital’s policy.
The lawsuit cites Michigan’s Whistle Blowers Protection Act, which states an “employer shall not discharge, threaten, or otherwise discriminate against an employee regarding the employee’s compensation, terms, conditions, location, or privileges of employment because the employee, or a person acting on behalf of the employee, reports or is about to report, verbally or in writing, a violation or a suspected violation of a law or regulation or rule promulgated pursuant law of this state."
Sinai-Grace has repeatedly been the focus of media reports during the COVID-19 outbreak.
Earlier this month, eight nurses held a sit-in to protest the nurse-to-patient ratio. The nurses would each have about a dozen seriously ill patients under their care. About half of those patients would be on a ventilator.
Hospital management told them to get to work or leave, so they went home.
Last week, photos emerged showing body bags stacked in rooms of the hospital. Those photos garnered national attention as workers came forward to describe the conditions inside Sinai-Grace, calling it “horrible.”
The hospital will be receiving local and state help as a result of those photos.