Mental health workers say they're being put at risk by city facilities

Mental health workers say they're being put at risk by city facilities

Mental health workers and some support staff at publicly run facilities in the city say they are being pressured to show up in person despite their ability to work remotely — and the places they work for have not shared information on their exposure to the coronavirus or clear protocols on how to protect themselves. Social workers, psychologists, interns and other staff at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center, as well as mental health services run by NYC Health + Hospitals, told POLITICO that they have been pressured to come in, but in many cases have not been given adequate protective equipment and were kept in the dark about whether their facilities had Covid-19 cases. The workers requested anonymity for fear of retaliation. At least two workers at MPC — one who worked as an aide for people with serious mental illnesses and another who worked as a safety officer — have died, according to emails obtained by POLITICO. The institutions argue the workers, even though they're not treating coronavirus cases, are still essential to treat high-risk patients, along with other crucial functions. The workers say their requests to work from home have prompted ultimatums from leadership: Come in or get fired. “They have threatened employees about contact with the media and internal advocacy for safer working conditions,” one staffer at the Manhattan Psychiatric Center told POLITICO, which reported on similar gag orders last week. “Of course this is communicated in private. No one is reckless enough to put it in writing or communicate this in a group.” The center ...
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