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Nurses ‘feel like they’ve been hung out to dry,’ ask Gov. Burgum to meet

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“Nurses need to fight for their voices to be heard.”

Those are the words of the North Dakota Nurses Association President in a virtual press conference Friday morning.

“A nurse with COVID-19, symptomatic or asymptomatic, is still ill and his or her body needs to recuperate. Not to be working in high risk and potentially environment,” said Tessa Johnson, the President of the North Dakota Nurses Association.

The association held a press conference to ask that Gov. Doug Burgum pull the order that would allow asymptomatic COVID-19 nurses to continue working.

Also, for local leaders and communities to do their part in helping driving numbers down.

“Because of our failure to respond in a timely manner to the threat of COVID-19 with real evidence-based mitigation strategies at the state level, we are now desperately trying to play catch up and find ourselves in a true crisis,” explained Johnson.

Executive Director Sherri Miller says North Dakota nurses are afraid to speak publicly about their experiences. So she shared some of those stories.

“From an ICU nurse: ‘Honestly, I put my notice in and decided to travel. The hospital was not listening and people have died because of it,” Miller shared. “I’ve had patients in their 20s on the ventilator who ended up dying from COVID after spending weeks in the hospital. Myself and my colleagues, whether house staff or crisis travelers, are tired and hurt. I arrive to my shift on the COVID ICU and feel instant anxiety. I feel like I’m in a war zone. I see chaos and stress all around me because someone just coded or died.”

President Johnson says nurses have expressed feeling a lack of support by hospital administration and local leaders as hospitals fill up.

“They feel like they’ve been hung out to dry essentially with little support. And then when the order came in that they can continue to work while positive was really the last straw for them,” explained Johnson.

Johnson says they want Governor Burgum to meet either with the Nurses Association or nurses on the frontline.

Johnson also said according to the American Nurses Association 200,000 nurses across the country have already reported symptoms of PTSD because of COVID.

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