WASHINGTON (FOX 5 DC) - A source tells FOX 5 that memos have gone out at MedStar Georgetown Hospital telling employees not to speak publicly or post on social media amid the COVID-19 pandemic and a nurse at another MedStar hospital tells FOX 5 employees have also felt pressure not to speak out about supplies and safety.
According to the source familiar with the memos, employees are being reminded of media and social media policies, creating pressure that they should not be speaking out publicly.
Nuerology nurse Amanda Trebach says employees as MedStar Washington Hospital Center have also felt pressure not to speak about supplies or their own safety while treating patients.
Trebach says several weeks ago, the nurse's union had to fight with hospital administration to get more N95 masks, but that things have improved recently.
"We weren't ready. The hospital was not ready. When we first started to get patients in we were not given N95 masks regardless of what the CDC was saying. We have to be protected. We are frontline workers and if we're not protected our patients aren't protected," said Trebach.
Still, Trebach worries supplies of masks and other protective equipment will run out.
"I am scared, but I think it is worth it because I want to help save lives and I truly believe having a scientific background and wanting to help my patients that we need this protective material. If we get sick we can't take care of our patients and I would rather save lives and get fired than not," said Trebach.
Many hospitals have had policies directing employees to refer journalists to communications professionals to maintain patient privacy, but some health care workers have felt they need to be able to speak out and let the public know what's happening during this crisis.
The pressure comes as some hospital systems across the country have fired doctors or nurses for giving interviews or otherwise speaking out.
A hospital fired an ER doctor in Washington State last week after he gave an interview to a reporter, and a nurse in Chicago reportedly lost her job for emailing colleagues that she needed more safety equipment.
In a statement to FOX 5 a spokeswoman for MedStar said:
"Our priority is the health and safety of our patients, care providers, associates and their families as we deal with the unfolding COVID-19 pandemic and we continue to meet this critical standard across all our MedStar Health facilities. Because our efforts related to this public health emergency are constantly evolving, we are asking our staff to direct questions from reporters to our PR teams to ensure the public has the most updated information. Our long-standing media and social media policies are intended to protect patient and associate privacy and confidentiality. For the latest on what we are doing to address the COVID-19 pandemic across our system, including interviews with experts on the front lines, we invite people to visit our COVID-19 information page."