4

Meanwhile in Granbury: A Nurse Says She Was Fired for Wearing a Mask

An N95 respirator. In high demand right now.
An N95 respirator. In high demand right now.
^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.

There's a crisis within the coronavirus crisis hitting hospitals and medical facilities around the country. Personal protective equipment — the gloves, masks and gowns needed to protect front-line healthcare workers — is in short supply in many U.S. hospitals. Private companies and nonprofits are pitching in, trying to get the equipment where it's needed. So are healthcare workers like Tonya Randolph.

Before last Wednesday night, Randolph, a traveling nurse, worked at Lake Granbury Medical Center, she told the Observer last week. (Neither the hospital nor its parent company provided any comment on the substance of Randolph's story, although Dixielee Hedgecock, a spokeswoman for the medical center, did say that the hospital has an adequate supply of protective equipment, including masks.)

As the novel coronavirus crisis veered from epidemic to pandemic earlier this month, Randolph began wearing her personal N95 respirator during her shifts. Last Monday morning, she received a text from a supervisor. She and her colleagues were told that they should wear N95 masks only when they were caring for patients who'd already tested positive or were currently being tested for COVID-19.

According to Randolph, the hospital didn't want the nurses wearing masks because it felt that the nurses doing so might scare patients.

Randolph chose not to follow the order.

"(I told my supervisor), 'If you can guarantee I will be doing no harm to my patients, I will remove my mask,' " Randolph says, recalling being summoned to chat after the supervisor who sent the text spotted her with her mask on. "She was not able to say anything. (She) kept her mouth shut."

A human resources representative for the hospital fired Randolph as she sat in the parking lot, ready to come in for her shift Wednesday night.

None of her actual patients, Randolph says, ever had a problem with the mask.

"I had patients thank me for wearing a mask. I explained to them, 'I'm not wearing a mask because I'm sick, but because I am protecting you and protecting me,' and they expressed appreciation for that, just the opposite of fear," Randolph says.

Randolph says the agency that secures her traveling is 100% behind her, so she isn't worried about getting another job. She's still considering her legal options with regard to the Granbury hospital, she says.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.