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Nurses’ union says members being asked to transfer to Metro Detroit hospitals

Artur Tumasjan for Unsplash.com

Updated April 2, 11:00 pm: The president of the Michigan Nurses Association says members are being asked by their employers to transfer to hospitals in metro Detroit, where health systems are reaching capacity amidst a surge in COVID-19 cases

Despite the extra risk inherent in those jobs, the requests aren’t coming with any guarantees about personal protective equipment, says Jamie Brown, president of the MNA and a critical care nurse at Ascension Borgess Hospital in Kalamazoo.


“Right now, it’s a volunteer request. However, we’re only being offered $2 more an hour [plus food, gas and housing] to go and put our lives at risk, and no guarantee of the PPEs,” Brown said Thursday. 

As a critical care nurse, Brown says she has lot of patients with COVID-19, although they haven’t been as flooded in Kalamazoo as the Detroit-area hospitals. Still, at Ascension Borgess, they’re only given one N95 mask a day, she says. That makes their employer’s request for them to take on additional risk feel frustrating. 


“We’re hoping to keep it volunteer-only, but if it gets bad enough, they will start mandating people over there.” 

If that happens, Brown says some members may walk off the job. 

“I’ve had nurses, several nurses, threaten to quit if we’re mandated into other hospitals. And if we’re going over there for $2 more an hour, that’s not worth uprooting our lives and leaving our families. So it’s uncertainty, anxiety about having to quit, and maybe get a travel contract. It’s such a hardship for everybody right now,” she says. 

Brown says MNA members in other health systems are also getting similar requests, though she declined to say which ones. Asked for comment, a spokesperson for Ascension Michigan sent the following statement, attributed to Maureen Chadwick, chief nursing officer for Ascension Michigan:


"Ascension Michigan is fortunate to call on the support amongst our ministries to deliver the compassionate and personalized care we’re known for during this global pandemic. Aligned with our Catholic tradition of helping those in need, we will work together to slow the transmission of Covid-19 while protecting our patients, associates and the communities we serve.” 

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Kate Wells is a Peabody Award-winning journalist currently covering public health. She was a 2023 Pulitzer Prize finalist for her abortion coverage.
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