Tampa Bay nurse infected with coronavirus claims sick leave was denied 

Investigations

SEMINOLE, Fla. (WFLA) – A Tampa Bay area nurse on the front lines contracted coronavirus while working at a local nursing home. He called 8 On Your Side after he says his sick leave was denied.

“I worked a 3 to 11 shift, and I’ve never called in sick a day in my life, I’m 52,” he told us.

The 52-year-old Pinellas County nurse doesn’t want his name revealed. He fears he’ll be blacklisted.

Still, it’s a story he has to tell.

“What was it like to work at Freedom Square during this pandemic?” Investigative Reporter Mahsa Saeidi asked him.

“People were pretty nervous but the management told us ‘hey, don’t worry about it,'” he said.

State records show that more people have died at Freedom Square than any other Florida nursing home. Those deaths include a nurse at the facility.

According to a letter obtained by 8 On Your Side, the nurse who we spoke with this week was hired as a PRN in March. That means he would work as needed.

About a month in, he tested positive.

“For several days, I felt like Jesus Christ being crucified on the cross,” he said. “When I heard my coworker died, I got really nervous.”

His anxiety turned into anger. The nurse claims that Freedom Square would not give him sick leave as he was recovering at home.

The nurse says that he was told PRN’s don’t qualify for benefits and, despite the pandemic, rules are rules.

“I just feel there’s no one advocating for us nurses and CNAs,” he said.

8 On Your Side called and emailed the facility’s Executive Director Michael Mason and others repeatedly about these allegations.

Right now, we’re waiting to hear back from the facility.

In the past, they’ve said, they’ve been very aggressive in trying to combat this virus. And they deeply appreciate their employees.

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