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It was a staffing crisis the hospital didn’t handle appropriately, said Eichenlaub, who was among the day-shift nurses who had to stay on duty for 24-straight hours.
“On April 5, we knew it was going to be severely short,” he said. “We knew that and we were voicing concerns about it. What should have occurred that night is something that’s called an internal disaster. … That would cause all of leadership, every single leader in that establishment, to report to work to see what they could do to resolve the situation.
“So that night, when the night shift knew it was too unsafe for them to come out, and they were demanding more help, and … they were told to leave because they were not going to get any help, that is when the internal disaster should have been declared.”
“That is when they should have said, ‘OK, this is an internal disaster.”We should not be forcing our nurses to work 24 hours straight. Once you get to the point of a 12- to a 14-hour shift. … you have a higher rate of errors that occur and there are going to be many more problems.”
He said he talked to a manager and asked why an internal disaster had not been declared.
“She could not give me an answer,” Eichenlaub said. “Nothing, nothing was done from an emergency standpoint.”
His wife wrote letters to several state lawmakers, both U.S. senators from Michigan and the president about the conditions at the hospital, asking for an intervention.
But there was no relief until after the peak of the COVID-19 crisis, they said, when caseloads dropped off.