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Michigan nurses, university sign Ebola contract

November 11, 2014

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — The University of Michigan Health System and the state’s largest nurses union have signed a contract that protects nurses who care for Ebola patients.

The health system and the Michigan Nurses Association announced the agreement Monday. It includes standards for training and protective equipment, as well as provisions on unchanged position and salary for a quarantined nurse or a nurse who is infected with the virus. The hospital has agreed to pay for all medical treatment and follow-up, including psychological testing for nurses if needed.

“This is groundbreaking language,” said Katie Oppenheim, RN, president of the University of Michigan Professional Nurse Council. “Nurses have stepped up and volunteered to care for Ebola patients. Now they can do so knowing that their lives and their income will be protected should they become exposed to the Ebola virus.”

The nurses council represents more than 5,000 registered nurses within the University of Michigan Health System.

Research conducted by the nurses association shows many Michigan nurses don’t feel prepared to care for Ebola patients, according to the union. The state hasn’t had any confirmed cases.

“This contract is not only important for the UMHS nurses but it sets the standard for all hospitals in Michigan and the United States,” said John Karebian, executive director at the Michigan Nurses Association. “Nurses who are willing to risk their lives to care for these extremely infectious patients should not have to worry about their income and job at the same time. MNA and UMHS are leading the way in making sure nurses have the optimum protection in all areas when caring for an Ebola patient.”

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