On Thursday the 29th of September Nurses and other medical staff at Tulare Regional Medical Center got the surprise of their lives – their paychecks didn’t arrive and at a meeting with Hospital Administrators they were told that they shouldn’t worry as the checks would be released over the next few days as the hospital collected money.

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Now, I am not going to delve into the saga of how the hospital got to where it couldn’t pay employees. Suffice to say that it seems to be mainly because of an ongoing argument between the Tulare Local Healthcare District board of directors and the management company – Healthcare Conglomerate Associates (HCCA). Their CEO Dr. Yorai “Benny” Benzeevi stated at a meeting on 27 September that HCCA are no longer willing to fund the Tulare Regional Medical Center and if the board doesn’t approve another loan the hospital could be shut down.

This all culminated in staff not receiving their checks on Thursday as they should have and the hospital probably filing for Chapter 9 Bankruptcy on Monday 2nd October.

What I am wondering is what would you as a Nurse do in a situation like this? Let’s face it, as Nurses, we care about our patients and their well-being (well, most of them anyway…) and we also have a moral obligation to be looking after the people put in our care. But, the bottom line is that we work to get paid.

When the news broke that not everyone will be getting their checks some of the staff walked off the job and some of the staff stayed. Now I don’t have specifics on which and how many staff members stayed or left but it does bring up an interesting question in my mind. What would I do?

On the one hand, I work to get money as do most of us out there in the world. So, if you are not going to be paying me for the work done then I am done – no way I am doing another stitch of work for you.

On the other hand, if I have patients that are in my care and I know that if I leave there might not be someone to look after them (or look after them as well as I can) could I turn off my humanity and just leave them to their own devices? Please note that this is a purely hypothetical question and not based on specific person or incident at Tulare Regional Center as we have no specifics of patients or caregivers that left.

Look, I am pretty sure that if I didn’t get paid and I had no patients I will be off the site faster than you can say the word “pay” but where do you draw the line? What if you had a patient that is just there for a minor ailment and they are quite capable of looking after themselves? Do you leave? What if it is a serious patient and you know that they would definitely suffer if you leave?

Can you call an ambulance and have the patient transferred to another hospital?

Please tell us what you would do?

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