San Mateo Nurses Protest For More PPE, Workers' Comp Protections

San Mateo Nurses Protest
Photo credit Margie Shafer

Registered nurses are demanding San Mateo County not deny workers compensation claims for frontline healthcare workers who contract COVID-19. Nurses protested at the entrance to San Mateo Medical Center this afternoon while wearing masks and practicing social distancing. 

The nurses are demanding personal protective equipment and safe staffing levels. Many nurses, including 25-year veteran nurse Margarita Harrington are volunteering for additional shifts due to a chronic nursing shortage.

“The county is telling the nurses and frontline staff that they will not have presumptive eligibility during this COVID-19 pandemic.” said Harrington.

She said that while no workers comp claims have been denied yet, they have been told by the county it will be up to Workers' Compensation to decide, should a health worker get sick, how they got sick. The challenge of course being that there is no sure way to know where a person gets COVID-19.  

For example, if it’s decided a health care worker got the virus at the grocery store, a workers comp claim could be denied. Harrington says other hospitals in the area are allowing for presumptive eligibility.

“This county is not protecting us should we contract COVID19.” said Harrington.

The county has ordered, and is expecting, a shipment soon of personal protective equipment.