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Michigan Nurses Association cries foul over fired Muskegon Nurse

Michigan Nurses Association

After a Muskegon Nurse was fired shortly after complaining about inadequate conditions at Hackley Hospital, the Michigan Nurses Association is vowing to fight back. 

In late March, Justin Howe, then the President of the Nurses Union at Mercy Health’s Hackley Campus, spoke to a number of media outlets about the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hospital staff as they treated patients suffering from the coronavirus.

Shortly after, Howe says, Hospital executives said they needed to speak with him.

“And that is when the hospital made the false allegations that I violated HIPAA, and they issued me a termination,” Howe said.

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, prohibits hospital staff from accessing a patient’s records without cause, something Howe says he has never done in his career. He calls the allegations “ridiculous.”

“Because I know better,” Howe said. “Not only am I a nurse, I have been President of the Union for the past three years, I have been involved with the union since 2014. I know the process, and I know what HIPAA entails.”

In response, Mercy Health issued this statement:

“Former Mercy Health Nurse Justin Howe's allegation that he was terminated for raising safety concerns is emphatically false.  Mr. Howe was terminated from Mercy Health for violating the privacy of multiple patients over a period of days by entering into their electronic medical chart without a need to do so.”

Meanwhile, Howe says, the hardest part is having to be on the sidelines during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It’s hard because I know where I belong,” Howe said. “And not being able to use the knowledge and skills that I have, it has been very difficult.”

The Michigan Nurses Association believes that Howe’s termination is a violation of federal labor law, has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board, and believes that Howe will be reinstated.

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