Jhonna Porter, a charge nurse at HCA-owned West Hills Hospital in Los Angeles, was suspended after she informed colleagues that their hospital unit was to be converted to care exclusively for COVID-19 patients. Out of concern for the safety of her fellow nurses, Porter posted in a private social media group with only nurses from her floor, to alert them to the change and to caution them to be careful. Shortly thereafter, she made a plea on her personal social media, asking for community donations to be sent directly to the nurses because hospital staff were not receiving proper PPE from supplies donated to the hospital.
In response to her post in the private group, the hospital administration accused Porter of violating hospital social media policies and HIPAA, a patient privacy law. She was suspended without pay pending termination. She went to the media, and a series of high-profile stories were published about the misuse of HIPAA to silence whistleblowers. Porter was then reinstated, with pay. Porter hopes to prevent other healthcare professionals from being silenced as hospital equipment shortages continue to occur. Porter continues to be an advocate for her patients and her coworkers as an activist in her union, SEIU 121RN.
Porter will speak at NWC’s National Whistleblower Day 2020 webinar on the panel entitled, “COVID-19 Crisis: The Contribution of Whistleblowers to Public Health and Economic Revitalization.”
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