Nurses union: Hospital fired nurse after speaking to media

Justin Howe spoke to FOX 17 about PPE concerns days before being terminated
Posted at 11:51 AM, Apr 21, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-21 16:56:08-04

MUSKEGON, Mich — A nurses union has filed a complaint with a national labor relations board alleging that a Hackley Hospital in Muskegon fired one of their members after they spoke to the media.

The Michigan Nurses Union said Tuesday that they had filed the charge with the National Labor Relations Board.

The charge alleges that Hackley Hospital terminated Justin Howe on April 3 after he spoke to local media outlets about the hospital not being properly prepared to protect staff amid the coronavirus.

Howe was an ICU RN and president of the Mercy Health Partners RN Staff Council, an affiliate of the nurses association.

Jen Parks, BSN, RN, a Hackley nurse and the new acting president of the RN Staff Council, said in a statement Tuesday, “I really cannot think of anything more disgusting than a hospital firing a dedicated nurse like Justin in the height of a pandemic just because he was willing to speak out and hold them accountable... I didn’t want to believe they would ever sink this low.”

FOX 17 was one of the outlets that Howe spoke to prior to being terminated.

“I followed my conscience by advocating publicly for nurses and patients, and I would do it again in a heartbeat,” Howe said in a statement Tuesday. “Losing my job is devastating, but the consequences of not speaking out would be even worse. Lives are on the line.”

Mercy Health provided the following statement Tuesday in response to the union's allegations:

This matter is being managed pursuant to the contractual dispute resolution process, and we are confident that the termination will be upheld. All safety concerns and complaints have been investigated internally and externally by Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and have been summarily dismissed.