CHICAGO (AP) — A former nurse is suing a Chicago hospital for allegedly firing her in retaliation for warning colleagues that masks provided by the hospital to treat COVID-19 patients would not sufficiently protect them from contracting the disease.
Lauri Mazurkiewicz contends in her lawsuit filed Monday in Cook County Circuit Court that Northwestern Memorial Hospital began accepting COVID-19 patients this month but gave its employees “less-effective” masks and prevented them from wearing N95 masks, which are more effective at preventing people from catching the coronavirus, the Chicago Sun-Times reported.
She says she sent an email on March 18 cautioning staff and supervisors that N95 masks were more useful than the ones that the hospital distributed, and that she was fired the next day after coming to work while wearing an N95 mask.
The lawsuit names the hospital and several employees as defendants, and it seeks more than $50,000 in damages.
A spokesman for Northwestern Memorial said in an email the Sun-Times that the hospital is “reviewing the complaint.”
For most people, the coronavirus causes only mild or moderate symptoms, such as fever and cough. For some, especially older adults and people with existing health problems, it can cause more severe illness, including pneumonia.
The vast majority of people recover from the virus. According to the World Health Organization, people with mild cases recover in about two weeks, while those with more severe cases can take three to six weeks to get better.
Illinois officials reported 1,285 cases as of Monday afternoon and 12 deaths, which was up from 1,049 cases and nine deaths on Sunday.