A video that appears to show a healthcare worker on the job fast asleep on her feet has gone viral on social media, leading to at least one employee’s resignation and the state now investigating.
The incident took place at Auburn Rehabilitation & Nursing Center in Auburn, NY and the video shows what appears to be an employee at a med cart with a drawer open and a computer screen on having difficulty standing upright.
According to WSYR-TV, the video was taken and posted by an employee of the center, Alexxis McNeil, who shared the video with NewsChannel 9.
As a result, the New York State Department of Health is now investigating, the outlet added.
What the Video Showed
WSYR-TV noted that while they confirmed that the person in the video was indeed an employee of the Auburn Rehab and Nursing Center, they could not confirm what exactly was happening in the video. It couldn’t be confirmed if the person was actually asleep if they were experiencing some kind of medical event or emergency, or if something else was happening.
What might be clear from the video is that the person being recorded is most likely an LPN because it appears they are standing near a med cart. According to the center’s website, the facility offers short-term rehabilitation and post-acute care, so it is not a long-term facility. The website also notes that the team consists of “the best doctors, nurse practitioners, licensed practical nurses, and certified nurse aides in Cayuga County.” RNs were not listed in their team.
Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center Statement
In response to the story and video going viral, an administrator from the Center sent this statement to the news outlet:
“Auburn Rehabilitation and Nursing Center is aware of a video posted to social media depicting a staff member in our facility. We take the matter very seriously. It was promptly reported to our oversight agencies, and we continue to cooperate fully with them. We also commenced an immediate internal investigation and will take appropriate responsive action to protect the health and safety of our residents and staff.”
In addition to the internal investigation now pending, the New York State Health Department also stated that they are investigating. Their statement reads:
“The New York State Department of Health has made it a top priority to hold nursing homes accountable for the quality of care they provide. That’s why, the Department has launched an investigation into this matter…As this is an open investigation, we cannot comment further at this time.”
Issues With Understaffing
While it’s not entirely clear what was even happening in the video or why the aide who took the video sent it to a news station, one LPN on Facebook has a theory about it: she believes the aide was trying to draw attention to how overworked and exhausted healthcare workers are.
The LPN named Amber Miller defended the aide who posted the video, noting that she should have never been fired for trying to draw attention to how overworked nurses are right now. In a Facebook post, she wrote that the aide tried to “force” admin to listen, only to lose her job as a result.
Auburn Pub reported that the nursing home told them that the aide who took the video was still employed. However, the aide also told the news outlet that the administration informed her that taking and sharing the video violated HIPPA privacy laws and that she would be fired. So instead of being fired, she voluntarily resigned.
Auburn Pub also shared that the nursing center has received 62 complaints dating from 2019 to this year, higher than the state average.
Social Media Reactions
While there has been speculation that the video was aimed at showing the exhaustion of nurses in healthcare right now, others on social media weren’t so sure the video showed just an exhausted nurse.
“I am a nurse lol and I ain’t never been that tired…even after working 10 shifts in a row…I was miserable and exhausted….but not doing the lean….as a nurse who has dealt with a lot of patients who came in OD’d, this is definitely am OD nod,” said one commenter.
That is not being extremely tired,” wrote another. “That’s the high-as-hell nod. I’ve been a nurse for 13 years-been on call and worked 25 hrs straight and multiple shifts in a row…honey we are tired but we ain’t that tired.”
Other commenters stated that the aide who recorded and sent the video in had already tried to reach out to administration about the nurse to no avail, which is why she took additional action. And another speculated that the nurse in the video had been known to have some substance abuse challenges, although again, that has not been confirmed by any source.
And another commenter chided those who jumped to point fingers at substance abuse as the culprit over exhaustion. “It’s sad that people go straight to drugs etc. automatically guilty. Do people not realize it could have been a medical condition or pure exhaustion,” she wrote. “Nurses are so overworked right and understaffed. But yes by all means go straight to blasting this all over social media deeming it automatically drugs.”
And on YouTube, comments supporting the nurse in the video flooded WSYR’s channel.
“Good luck finding another nurse to cover that shift,” wrote one viewer. “I think it’s so sad. I have done night shifts for many years, and it’s not an easy thing to do. There are many times I have fought to keep my eyes open. I was struggling, and after a while, I quit that night shift and never looked back. You know who suffers?? Not the media, not the nurses, not the patients’ family. The patients are the ones who suffer. I don’t know her story. Yes, it could be drug related. I just hope people know healthcare workers are humans, not robots. Some call us superheroes, but besides the scrubs and stethoscopes, we tend to make mistakes that we try to hard not do. We pray we never kill anyone, but we are hoping we learn from them and forgive ourselves as much as we can.”
Nurse.org reached out to Auburn Rehabilitation & Nursing Center and has not received a reply regarding the video or incident.