• Olga Matievskaya opened a GoFundMe page to raise funds for PPEs 
  • She works as an ICU nurse at Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, where supply is short
  • The hospital suspended her for the distribution of the "unauthorized" PPEs

A nurse working at the intensive care unit of a New Jersey hospital was suspended from her job after she raised thousands of money to buy personal protective equipment (PPE) for herself and her colleagues.

Olga Matievskaya, who is a registered nurse at the Newark Beth Israel Medical Center, was able to raise $12,485 via GoFundMe. She used the funds to buy 500 masks, 400 caps, 150 jumpsuits, and 4,000 shoe covers as she and her co-workers are in the frontlines helping COVID-19 positive patients.

A nurse changes out gloves while New Jersey National Guard Airmen direct traffic at a COVID-19 Community-Based Testing Site at the PNC Bank Arts Center in Holmdel, N.J., March 23, 2020. Master Sgt. Matt Hecht/Wikimedia Commons

Hospital officials, however, said that Matievskaya distributed "unauthorized" PPEs to the staff. Thus, she was suspended from coming to work last weekend.

Matievskaya decided to hold a fundraising campaign to purchase PPEs after she and her co-workers had nothing to protect themselves from taking care of COVID-19 patients in the ICU.

Four of Matievskaya's colleagues attested in an exclusive interview with ProPublica that the hospital administration did not provide them with the needed supplies. They said that Matievskaya took the initiative and showed leadership to ensure that they were safe.

Matievskaya purchased their PPEs on eBay after ending the fundraising campaign on April 5.

“We think it’s great that people donated money," Linda Kameteh, the hospital spokesperson, said. “However, we need to know what’s coming in (to the hospital). We need to know our patients are safe. We need to know that our staff is safe.”

Her co-workers said that they were not aware of any information about not being allowed by the hospital to purchase or distribute PPEs to the staff.

On Tuesday, the hospital released a notice to its staff, stating that they cannot distribute medical supplies "at their own discretion." The memo reminded hospital workers to follow the CDC guidelines for the use of PPE and supplies.

"We continue to ensure that every clinician has the PPE needed to safely treat COVID-19 patients," the statement read.

The hospital also confirmed that Matievskaya is back at work. The administration did not say what will happen to the supplies that the nurse procured.