Jennifer Bejo has worked as an intensive care unit nurse at Albany Medical Center for 16 years. Over the last two years, she and her colleagues have had a lot on their plates.
“We’re emotionally drained. We are physically drained,” Bejo said. “We’re always thinking and worried about what’s going to happen tomorrow.”
She says the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's recent reduction of the COVID-19 isolation period to five days from 10 is putting even more pressure on them.
The New York State Nurses Association has condemned the decision, calling the new guidance “based not on science, but on supplies and economic considerations.”
“We don’t want to see it as if the CDC changes guidance to accommodate just organizations or corporations,” Bejo said.
The CDC has defended the move, and said testing is not required to emerge from isolation. But the agency is recommending people wear masks everywhere for five days afterward.
Gov. Kathy Hochul adopted those guidelines, saying it allows critical workforce members to return to work sooner.
“Health care, transportation, grocery stores, all the things that we’ve identified as important, that they can get back to work as soon as it is safe to do so,” Hochul said.
But Bejo doesn’t think the change will help staffing, which has already been a challenge before the pandemic. She said so far, she hasn’t seen the impact of the guidance or heard of staff being forced to come back to work earlier.
Bejo said she just wants policy makers to listen to them.
“We will be there for the community,” she said. “We will be there for you guys. We will be there for our patients. But somehow, we want to be protected, too.”