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San Diego Nurse Reacts To Losing Job During Coronavirus Pandemic: ‘You Don’t Expect It To Happen’

Escondido’s Palomar Medical Center is shown in this undated photo.

Photo by Katie Schoolov

Above: Escondido’s Palomar Medical Center is shown in this undated photo.

Stevie Tubbs was a registered nurse at Palomar Health until Tuesday, when he found out he was losing his job.

"They said, 'Unfortunately we have to lay some people off and your name was picked,'' Tubbs said.

Listen to this story by Matt Hoffman.

This week Palomar Health eliminated 317 positions as the healthcare system sees a drop in revenue and patient volume during the COVID-19 outbreak.

"It’s a tough thing to kind of accept or swallow," said Tubbs, who had been with the company for over four years. The move left him scratching his head.

"It’s just one of those things where you understand that COVID-19 has affected everybody but ... as a healthcare worker you don’t expect it to happen in the healthcare field because it’s not like we’re through the virus," Tubbs said. "We don’t know what the future will hold as far as cases could spike up."

RELATED: Palomar Health To Lay Off 317 Employees, Citing Lack Of Revenue

Tubbs lives in Escondido and just wants to get back to serving those in his North County community.

"I love the fact that I can go to the grocery store and see Bill the plumber that I care for and see how he’s doing," Tubbs said. "Because caring for people is who I am, not what I do. So it makes it hard for to not be doing work as a registered nurse right now."

Palomar Health is not the only one cutting staff. Also this week Tri-City Healthcare temporarily furloughed 48 workers. Those employees will still receive benefits, whereas Palomar Health cut positions altogether.

County health officials said Tuesday the healthcare job losses are worrisome.

"Laying off of staff is a concern to us, and I don’t have an answer for that, how that will be improved, except that as we open up, staff can hopefully come back," Dr. Wilma Wooten, San Diego County's Public Health Officer, said.

Other healthcare systems are not laying off or eliminating positions, they are reducing shifts.

A Sharp HealthCare spokesperson said Tuesday it has not had to cut staff, but has had to reduce hours and shifts.

A Scripps Health spokesperson said no clinical staff have been laid off, but due to a lack of patients they have had to cut back and move around some shifts.

A spokesperson for Rady Children's Hospital said Tuesday it has not laid anyone off, but staff have been repurposed. In just the last week, patient volume there has been increasing, but Rady's has also had to cancel shifts in its emergency and other departments, citing lack of patients.

UC San Diego Health has not instituted layoffs. A spokeswoman did not answer whether they too are cutting or reducing shifts.

Meantime, Kaiser Permanente in San Diego county said Tuesday it is fully staffed.

"Kaiser Permanente has not been as adversely affected as other health care organizations that operate on a fee-for-service basis," a spokeswoman for Kaiser said.

Kaiser said it's increasing virtual appointments online. In San Diego alone there has been a jump of more than 700%.

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Photo of Matt Hoffman

Matt Hoffman
Health Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksI am a general assignment reporter for KPBS. In addition to covering the latest news and issues that are relevant to the San Diego community, I like to dig deeper to find the voices and perspectives that other media often miss.

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