LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – Jhonna Porter is a registered nurse with more than a decade of experience. And she wants to be working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Instead, she is sidelined at home.

Porter was placed on unpaid leave two weeks ago after she made a post in a private Facebook group for the nurses on her floor at West Hills Hospital.

What was in the post? “Hey you guys the rumors are true, our floor is becoming the COVID floor. Be careful,” said Porter.

“I just felt like I was retaliated against for speaking up and asking for help,” she added.

Porter also listed the rooms these patients were being taken into.

“Because at the time, we didn’t know if it was airborne, we didn’t know the dangers were and we felt like we needed to protect ourself because even going into a room or answering a call light can put you at risk if you go into that room,” she said.

Jhonna Porter with colleagues in an undated photo. (courtesy photo)

Porter was disciplined because the hospital says she violated the HIPAA act, which protects patient privacy. Porter feels like she was retaliated against.

“I do feel like it has a lot to do with the fact that 20 hours earlier I posted on my own Facebook page about the lack of protective (gear) we were being given for PPE,” she said.

Porter’s fellow RN at West Hills, who asked us not to identify him, is also on unpaid leave after he too made a post asking for donations of protective gear.

“I didn’t think it would be controversial because it’s all about safety,” he said.

The donated gear now sits in his house. He says West Hills hospital won’t let him deliver it to his coworkers.

“It seemed to me that because I was outspoken about PPE, they were trying to silence me and other nurses who are outspoken,” he said.

Porter has all these masks and goggles that were donated to her- that are also just sitting in her living room.

Both nurses feel like West Hills is more motivated by protecting its image, than its nurses and staff.

In a statement, West Hills Hospital said its staff is free to express themselves on social media- but they say the issue here is that the posts in question may have violated patient privacy laws, such as including room numbers.

The nurses will be allowed to return to work Wednesday. The hospital says the investigation is ongoing.

Comments (36)
  1. Stephanie says:

    The nurses and doctors that are on the front line, they lives matter just as well, how do you expect them to treat their patients if they are unprotected, and jeopardizing themselves in contracting the virus which is deadly to some people. No one knows but the doctors and nurses how they feel and the stress that they under. the people that are complaining should trade places with them for a week. “DOCTORS AND NURSES LIVES MATTER!!!

  2. Irina says:

    I’m a registered nurse, and posting the room numbers where Covid 19 patients are going to be placed is a HIPAA violation. It has nothing to do with retaliation. We nurses should be careful what to post on social media. Would you like one of your relatives to be exposed if they were in one of those rooms? Please, don’t play a victim and don’t down play the violation.

    1. Andi says:

      Then why was the second RN mentioned as also receiving unpaid leave? Did he make the same HIPAA violation? It doesn’t sound like it.

      1. craftyone says:

        So basically she posted something in a private Facebook group, of nurses only on her floor, that covid patients were going to start being placed on that floor. (Sounds like she was ratted out)

        Then she publicly asked for PPE donations? Did she name room numbers or floor in her public post? There seems to be a lot of information being left out here.

        I can tell you as a patient, I would not consider any of that as a violation of my hippa information.

        I have a LOT of friends and family in the healthcare field. They will all, every single one of them, tell you that hospital administrators are the devil incarnate and only care about profit. The end.

        Luckily they probably have a union.

    2. Mark Whitebread says:

      sorry but they didn’t give patient names so it’s not a violation of hippa

  3. Peggy says:

    We need all the help we can get. These are trying times and I am sure it was a cry for help. Give them back their jobs. This is not ok..

  4. Karen says:

    I’m a registered nurse, as well. The RN very well that she was violating HIPAA laws by posting the room numbers. That was unnecessary. She’s facing serious charges for HIPAA violations.
    Sounds like she’s trying to play the victim for being suspended without pay for doing something she knew she wasn’t supposed to do.

  5. Jeff says:

    This is not a HIPAA violation, which requires identification of “Individually identifiable health information” (name, address, birth date, SSN #) (45 C.F.R. 160.101) An employer cannot retaliate against an employee for raising legitimate health and safety concerns. (Labor Code 6310)

  6. Patricia Lester says:

    There is a strange insanity going on with regard to protecting medical staff both in US and the UK. Utter madness for these amazing people not to have the right kind of protective gear. All to ensure that those who are profiteering do not lose any money making opportunity at the cost of innocent people’s lives. Evil and pathetic excuse for laying off these valuable members of the care industry.

  7. Christopher Dziopala says:

    What’s up with that left-hand thigh grab? That’s just where I usually place mine in group photos too! 😜

  8. tord55 says:

    The little guys in the frontline are the ones that endanger their lives each and every day, while the fat cats in the rear room scold them for the slightest infringement. In short business as usual!

  9. Kari says:

    1. A HIPAA violation is ANY information that gives away information about a patient to people who are not directly caring for the patient. Knowing the diagnosis of a patient based on the room they are assigned to IS a HIPAA violation.
    2. Also, whats not mentioned, but is also a violation …. is mentioning the hospital name (or showing the hospital logo in pictures) on social media for marketing purposes. Unless there is prior approval.

    Their trying to victimize this RN who is 100% in the wrong. She’s trying to drum up sympathy. I am an RN on a trauma unit of a level 1 trauma center. While the COVID patients are not on my unit, there are plenty of them in our medical center. The hospitals ARE providing PPE. Do you think the hospital is going to risk having COVID spread like wildfire through the units. Give me a break. Providing PPE is not even close to the only measure taken to prevent the spread of it. It would take too long to list the measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the hospital.

    1. Cameron says:

      “The hospitals ARE providing PPE” So you believe the nurses in question posted about their fear of a shortage of PPE as some kind of publicity stunt and were lying about what was happening at their workplace? Why would they do that? Are all the nurses, administrators, and public officials in New York and other places who are posting about shortages of PPE lying as well?

      1. Deb Dacus says:

        cameron, they are even advertising on tv and asking for monetary donations for mt sinai hospital in ny. then when you go to donate you have to take your phone and go over their logo, which in small letters says it takes your personal info. i’m wondering why this hospital is allowed to ask for donations for ventilators, ppe, a staff person’s lunch, when you don’t see other hospitals doing it.

  10. What’s with the freaking video to right of the screen? It’s in the way.

  11. Angelina Bernie Marie says:

    If all you doctors and nurses decide to start demonstrating or striking after this is over, I’m behind you. EVERY LAST ONE OF YOU.

Leave a Reply