CORNING, NY (WSKG) – Three nurses at Hornell Gardens Nursing Home in Steuben County refuse to work because they said they did not have access to proper protective gear amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The company claimed they voluntarily resigned.
Colleen Cole, licensed practical nurse, said while working at Hornell Gardens she did not have access to a mask and was told to share her gown after being exposed to a resident who later tested positive for COVID-19.
“I had him coughing on me,” explained Cole. “His secretions were on me, and then I gave him a nebulizer treatment which took all those particles and just spread them all throughout the air in the room.”
Kim McGregor also expressed concern. She’s a registered nurse and now former supervisor at the nursing home. McGregor stated there were no sinks or hand sanitizer stations outside of the residents’ rooms to properly wash their hands before making their rounds.
Michelle Leach, the third nurse to speak out about working conditions at Hornell Gardens, said sharing protective gear is unsanitary.
“I refuse to wear used PPE that multiple people on multiple shifts have used, that’s cross-contamination,” said Leach. “And that’s the most disgusting thing I’ve ever had a healthcare facility request.”
Hornell Gardens owner Robert Hurlbut claimed his workers have the gear they need to be in compliance with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the New York Department of Health guidelines, but these three refused to use it. He said they quit—and as healthcare workers, they are not eligible for benefits.
“They’ve chose to leave,” Hurlbut said. “They’re not going to get unemployment. They’re not going to get anything. So whether they work, come back and work for me or they go someplace else. If they don’t work. They don’t get paid anything.”
According to Hurlbut, the nurses still have jobs with Hornell Gardens but he said their licenses are in jeopardy if they do not return to work.
“This is like desertion out of the army. That’s the easiest way I can put it. And when you desert in the army, you get court martialed. So trust me, if they don’t come back to work soon, their licenses are going to be reported to the state,” he said.
All three women said they do not feel comfortable returning to the nursing home. They said they have been exposed to COVID-19 and their concerns have not been properly handled.
Steuben County reports multiple COVID-19 deaths at Hornell area nursing homes, but would not say which nursing homes or how many of the confirmed cases are tied to nursing homes altogether.
Cole tested for the virus and received her result Monday, which was negative.
Steuben County health officials said healthcare workers should be wearing masks and gloves at all times.