The nurse explained that she chose to walk out when her request to wear her own PPE was also denied as she couldn't risk getting infected and passing it on to her loved ones.
Imaris Vera, a 30-year-old registered nurse, turned to Instagram in tears last week to raise the alarm on the extremely dangerous conditions under which medical professionals are being asked to work. The critical care nurse broke down and wept as she revealed that she quit her job after being asked to work without proper personal protective equipment (PPE) in an ICU unity packed with coronavirus patients. Vera explained that she chose to walk out when her request to wear her own PPE was also denied as she couldn't risk getting infected and passing it on to her loved ones.
"I quit my job today, I wanted to work and I was assigned to a COVID patient on an ICU unit that has been converted to a designated COVID unit, none of the nurses are wearing masks, not even surgical masks in the hallways when they're giving reports to each other," Vera told her followers on Instagram in the emotional video. "I had my own N95 mask, I told my manager I understand we're short on supplies but let me protect myself, let me feel safe. I have family I have to come home to and the way things are looking this isn't gonna get any better. Americans are not prepared and nurses are not being protected."
Vera, who has been a traveling critical care nurse for four years since graduating from college, is now becoming the voice of the millions of nurses working under unsafe conditions amid this pandemic. "I know I am needed and I do want to help, but I feel like it's at the cost of my life or my family's lives and that is unacceptable," she told Daily Mail. "We wouldn't send our soldiers into biological warfare without gas masks or into a gunfight with knives. In the same way, medical workers should be properly protected."
"If there is a shortage of PPE equipment and we're waiting on more supplies and if I'm willing to use my own supplies from home, I shouldn't be penalized. I shouldn't have to worry about choosing between my job and my life or the life of my loved ones," added Vera, who currently lives with her sister Sabrina who has a rare blood disease, which makes her extremely vulnerable to the novel Coronavirus. Vera revealed that she'd noticed a palpable shift in the mood of her hospital at the beginning of March as the pandemic dominated headlines and countries began taking extreme measures to battle the spread of the virus.
"I would say that there is 100 percent tension in the air, nurses, and healthcare providers are scared," she said. "They're scared to work and are mentally and physically being torn apart by this. Staff members are also being threatened with their jobs and repercussions for speaking out. Other nurses have been fired for trying to help and warn other healthcare providers that they're working without safe PPE. It's definitely a scary time for us. America right now has the highest number of confirmed cases and we haven't even reached a peak. We're still climbing the hill."
Nurses at Montefiore in the Bronx are protesting the PPE shortage, saying there just isn’t enough production and distribution of PPE coming their way to keep up with the growing need. #1010WINS pic.twitter.com/1PvvUdEju0— Sonia Rincón (@SoniaRincon) April 2, 2020
"We need more protection period," Vera urged. "And if it's not provided to us, we should be able to provide it to ourselves. If we have the means, we're here to fight the fight, but we can't fight the fight without protection." She added that healthcare workers shouldn't be sacrificed in such a manner as their wellbeing is vital to the world surviving this pandemic. "We're needed to beat this and we can't beat it if we're falling with it," she said. Despite facing backlash online for quitting her job, Vera insists she hasn't turned her back on nursing. "If they had proper PPE I would be there tomorrow."