Unvaccinated Rhode Island nurses slam new hospital policy: ‘We’ve abandoned common sense’

Fired nurse speaks out after Rhode Island allows COVID-positive employees to return to work

Registered nurse Hannah Denietolis says that the decision ‘doesn’t make any sense’ and ‘abandons common sense.’

Two nurses fired for choosing to remain unvaccinated spoke out on Thursday after Rhode Island updated their guidelines with an option for COVID-positive health care workers to return to work.

“We’ve abandoned common sense,” said registered nurse Hannah Denietolis during an appearance on “Fox & Friends.” 

Denietolis told co-host Brian Kilmeade that she was “frustrated” that hospitals would rather have a vaccinated worker with “minimal risk of transmission” over an unvaccinated worker, testing negative, with “no risk of transmission.”

Earlier Thursday on “Fox & Friends First,” registered nurse Kim Theroux called the guidance “confusing” and asserted that bringing in COVID-positive employees could put patients and staff at risk. She said healthy, negative-testing, unvaccinated health care workers should also be allowed to work. 

More than 300 people in front of St. Vincents Hospital as union nurses announce a strike in Worcester, MA on March 7, 2021. 
(Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Theroux also told co-host Ashley Strohmier that she believed the new option was “discriminatory” towards unvaccinated workers. 

In a statement to the Providence Journal, Rhode Island Department of Health public information officer Joseph Wendelken said that the “updated guidance” is reflective of data that shows “most SARS-Cov-2 transmission occurs early in the course of illness.”

Wendelken added that facility administrators should use their “clinical judgment” in making staffing decisions during health care worker shortages. 

North Memorial Health Hospital Critical Care Nurse Kayla Lynch donned a protective gown before entering the room of a COVID-19 patient during her shift Dec 7. 2020. 

A memo was sent to employees of state-run Eleanor Slater Hospital on Friday explaining that “those who are exposed or have a positive COVID-19 test but are asymptomatic” can continue reporting to work “in crisis situations for staffing” if they wear N95 masks.

So far, the hospitals have not needed to call on COVID-positive workers to report to the job, however, this could change as staffing shortages continue and omicron strains hospital capacity.

“Like other states throughout the country, Rhode Island is implementing the CDC’s quarantine and isolation guidance. There are no facilities in Rhode Island who currently have COVID-positive staff on site,” Wendelken later clarified on Wednesday. 

Fox News’ Emma Colton contributed to this report. 

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