A nurse in Oregon who mocked the state’s pandemic protocols in a video that circulated on TikTok by saying she does not wear a mask in public has been placed on administrative leave, her employer said.
The nurse, Ashley Grames, is an employee at Salem Health, which operates Salem Health Hospital in Salem, Oregon, and other medical facilities treating COVID-19 patients in the state. Oregon has had at least 74,120 cases and 907 deaths since the beginning of the pandemic, according to a New York Times database.
Salem Health said in a statement that members of the public had alerted the company to the video, which it said showed “cavalier disregard for the seriousness of this pandemic.”
Local media reports said that Grames, who worked in the oncology unit, had posted the video from a TikTok account that has since been deleted and that the video was later republished in a “duet” version on the platform.
The video shows her wearing scrubs and a stethoscope around her neck, with a caption saying that she does not wear a mask in public, arranges play dates for her children and still travels.
Grames could not be reached Monday. KPTV reported that she declined to be interviewed when a reporter went to her home.
“Yesterday, a nurse employed with Salem Health posted a video on social media which displayed cavalier disregard for the seriousness of this pandemic and her indifference towards physical distancing and masking outside of work,” Salem Health said in its statement, which it posted on Facebook on Saturday.
“This video has prompted an outcry from concerned community members,” the health system said. “We want to thank those of you who brought this to our attention and assure you that we are taking this very seriously. This individual does not speak for Salem Health and has been placed on administrative leave pending an investigation.”
The health system’s statement did not identify the nurse, but Michael T. Gay, a spokesman, provided her name Monday and said she worked in the oncology department.
The health system’s Facebook post has attracted more than 1,000 comments, including from people who said they had relatives in the hospital. Some called for the nurse to be fired, while others questioned the difference between state mandates in private and public spaces.
“Is there a law in Oregon that medical professionals must wear a mask while being off the clock and off hospital grounds?” one reader wrote, adding that the video was “very irresponsible and shows zero compassion for people who have experienced COVID.”
Gay said that Salem Health expected its employees to follow the governor’s orders when off duty.
As officials have done in other states fighting the spread of the coronavirus, Gov. Kate Brown of Oregon has imposed strict measures, with a two-week freeze on many activities from Nov. 18 through Dec. 2, and limiting gatherings to six people from no more than two households. Oregon also has a statewide mask mandate.
Salem Health said in its statement that it required its staff members, patients and visitors to follow guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Those guidelines include hand washing, wearing masks that cover the mouth and nose when around others, and social distancing, all of which it has said are effective methods for slowing the spread of the coronavirus.
Referring to the video, the company said that “this one careless statement does not reflect the position of Salem Health or the hardworking and dedicated caregivers who work here.”
“The COVID pandemic is serious and requires a serious response,” the company added. “And at Salem Health we are very serious about our approach to COVID.”