The school nurses who initially volunteered to assist a private clinic in a vaccination rollout Friday backed out of the volunteer task because they did not want to walk into a “negative environment,” said Jon Fernandez, superintendent of the Guam Department of Education.
Ten GDOE nurses had volunteered to assist the American Medical Center with its vaccination efforts at the Father Duenas Phoenix Center but decided not to show up at the site.
“Several were concerned about a PDN opinion (Thursday) from an AMC founder that chastised the very nurses that AMC had asked to assist,” Fernandez said. "They felt bullied."
About 600 children were scheduled for vaccination, but Dr. Vince Akimoto said the nurses decided to “abandon” the posts at the last minute, demanding that they be paid overtime and hazardous pay.
Fernandez, however, denied Akimoto’s claim.
“Our nurses felt they were unwelcome or, at the very least, would be subject to the same strong negative sentiments by the event sponsor,” he said.
“This is volunteer work and I cannot force my employees to walk into an environment where they are not comfortable. As paid nurses, they are already doing their job for public health.”
Akimoto said the nurses' walkout, "in latest of series of unprofessional behavior," created chaos that has "jeopardized Covid care on Guam."
"I spoke with Dr. Hoa Nguyen from American Medical Center just now. He wanted to assure me that the individual whose opinion appeared in the PDN did not represent AMC's position as an organization," Fernandez said. "He further assured me that our school nurses who volunteer with AMC will be treated with respect and as part of the team and that they will be in a safe environment. The individual will not be allowed to be a part of any outreach involving GDOE nurses."