Minnesota nurses furloughed while out of state nurses imported during COVID-19 crisis

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Hundreds of nurses in Minnesota have been furloughed recently.

The cutbacks at various health care providers, including hospitals, is due to revenue lost from elective procedures that have been put on hold during the pandemic.

Saturday, when Gov. Tim Walz issued an executive order which allows doctors and nurses from out of state to temporarily come and work where needed in Minnesota, local nurses wondered why they couldn’t help during their furloughs.

Mariya Elverum Buxton hasn’t been to work at Children’s Hospital in St. Paul since she was furloughed on April 18.

"I want to work, that’s where I love working," she said.

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Her mom, Darlene Elverum is a retired nurse. However, her former hospital just called to see if she’d be willing to work again, even as her daughter who wants to cannot.

"I would like to go back, but my kids say ‘Heck no,’" Elverum said. "They don’t want me to go back because of my age."

She’s 73 years old.

This is the kind of health care conundrum facing this family and the rest of Minnesota.

"I’m a nurse that’s unemployed," Buxton said. "Doesn’t it seem like I should be working?"

Buxton asked her bosses if she could lend her skills to another facility that may be in need of nurses. However, her employers said, "they weren’t sure they could hold my job for me."

Wendy Burt, with the Minnesota Hospital Association, said allowing out of state nurses to come in and work will alleviate workforce concerns as COVID-19 patients increase.

Elverum, however, disagrees.

"I think it’s silly," she said. "I think nurses should be able to work and help out and not be afraid of losing their jobs if they do."

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