Coronavirus in Knox: Nurse says lack of COVID-19 precautions prompted her to quit


KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — A critical care nurse in Knoxville has walked off the job.

Brandi Rahmanian says Parkwest Medical Center isn’t doing enough to protect her, her co-workers and patients during the novel coronavirus pandemic.

She says Parkwest, operated by Covenant Health, is following CDC guidelines, but alleges they say to not wear N95 protective masks when dealing with asymptomatic patients. Rahmanian says that’s too risky.

Lack of personal protective equipment

“Our hospital has chosen to go by CDC guidelines which have been ever-changing since the pandemic basically hit. There’s obviously been a lack of personal protective equipment which includes the N95 respirators — I was told our facility has enough of those but we may possibly run out at some point but I expressed my concern that we should have an N95 each time we go in a patient room that is suspected or has the COVID virus confirmed,” she told WATE 6 On Your Side.

Rahmanian went on to say, “our community needs to be aware…if I’m potentially exposed because they don’t have the right equipment and for example maybe say I’m dealing with these patients who are positive, I have been exposed so the next day I come back to work and say I’m not dealing with positive patients — I just have a regular patient, I have the potential to infect those patients as well as my family, my coworkers and everybody else in my community.”

Rahmanian says she doesn’t know what she will do next. She knows it will be in the healthcare field.

Covenant Health says health and safety are its priority

Covenant says health and safety of staff, patient and community are its priority.

In a statement sent to WATE 6 On Your Side, Covenant also says its mask usage procedures are in line with CDC guidelines and that those indicate wearing masks through the day is not necessary unless the provider is in contact with a suspected COVID-19 patient or during normal care would require the use of a mask.

Hospital group says mask policies in line with CDC guidelines

Covenant went on to state, “we understand the anxiety that the current healthcare environment has created for our dedicated staff taking care of patients and we have said that staff may choose to wear their own personally-provided surgical type masks during their shift, but that, again in accordance with the CDC guidelines, personally-provided masks should not be used in situations that require a higher level of infection prevention.”

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