Coronavirus NJ: Home nurse says she quit after fighting for PPE

NEW JERSEY (WABC) -- While many front line hospital workers have been concerned about a lack of PPE equipment over the past few weeks while fighting the novel coronavirus, it's also a big concern for some nurses and therapists who work directly inside the homes of patients.

A nurse in New Jersey said it was such a concern, she took an extreme measure last week.

"It's people's lives, this thing is serious," Sandra Harrell said.

Harrell says she quit her job last Monday at Amedisys, a home health care company.

"At least now I can sleep at night, not worrying about somebody catching something from me," Harrell said.

She claims, along with another worker with whom 7 On Your Side Investigates spoke, that while some of her patients were battling diseases and the virus itself, she was battling to get enough protection equipment like masks, gloves and gowns.

"You should have the security that when I come into your home, I'm coming into your home and you don't have to worry about me bringing something to you in a time like this," Harrell said.

Harrell quit after five years on the job, saying she no longer felt safe walking into homes wearing the same mask repeatedly and having to constantly request other supplies.

"When a patient had to give me a box of gloves, that was the last straw," she said.

When 7 On Your Side Investigates reached out to the agency, they said the care center is well stocked and has surgical masks and supplies for daily use by clinicians.

Kendra Kimmons, vice president of Marketing and Communications for Amedisys, Inc., sent the following statement:

"The safety and well-being of our patients and our people is our highest priority, and Amedisys is providing all clinical staff adequate Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) to care for our patients. Our corporate teams have worked hard to ensure the supply chain is uninterrupted to all our locations, and our local leaders check in with our clinicians every day to confirm they have the equipment they need. There is no shortage of PPE at our Hackensack location. Amedisys will continue to follow all state, federal and CDC guidelines regarding PPE to allow our clinicians to do what they do best - care for the patients who need us the most, no matter the circumstance."

Meanwhile, Harrell is responding to the company's claims and says she's now looking for a new job.

If it was, then we would not be having this conversation," she said. "It would have been impossible for us to be having this conversation."
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