We are writing on behalf of the staff nurses of Newton-Wellesley Hospital with concern about the Nov. 19 article about a COVID-19 outbreak at the hospital (”9 employees at Newton hospital get COVID-19,” Business). The story contained a questionable statement from a Newton-Wellesley Hospital physician that the outbreak may have been started by employees being infected either outside of the hospital or at the hospital when on a meal break, when their masks would have been removed.
Publishing such statements is hurtful to the front-line workers who perform diligently every day to care for those who are infected with COVID-19 and undermines the trust necessary for health care to be delivered in a pandemic. The fact is that it is nearly impossible to determine the initial exposure that triggered the outbreak.
Even a recent Massachusetts General Hospital study said that “front-line health care workers had a nearly 12-times higher risk of testing positive for COVID-19 compared with individuals in the general community.” Health care employers must admit that nurses and other health care workers are at risk of workplace exposure to COVID-19.
The writers are registered nurses and are cochairs of the Massachusetts Nurses Association’s bargaining committee at Newton-Wellesley Hospital.