nurse bar video

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Nurse expresses regret after bar visit goes viral

She faced backlash after a video showed her at a crowded bar without a face mask and not practicing social distancing.

May 16, 2020, 3:10 pm*

IRL

By Stacy Fernández

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A nurse regrets her recent bar visit after facing backlash from the public and her employer.

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A local newscast shows Katie Koutski having a drink at her sister’s Wisconsin bar the night it reopened. The nurse wasn’t wearing a face mask and was sitting close to other bargoers.

“It was a lapse in judgment on my part to not ensure I had my mask prior to leaving my house and to not maintain social distancing – even during the interview requested by the reporter,” said Katie Koutski, the nurse at the center of all this, in a written statement.

In the video, the nurse explains the bar visit was a way to relieve some stress from her home and work life. The medical community has been in overdrive since the pandemic began.

“I have a toddler at home and I’m a full-time nurse it’s been very stressful and hard not to go out and be with my friends and family at the bars,” Koutski told a TMJ4 reporter.

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When asked about concerns of catching the virus at the bar, Koutski said it wasn’t something she was worried about.

“I don’t think the risk presents any higher than me going to a grocery store or me being out in the community in any other sort of way,” she said.

It’s safe to say Koutski probably wasn’t expecting her employer to see the interview and address her outing on TV—but it did.

During a virtual town hall with her employer Advocate Aurora Health, Mary Beth Kingston, the chief nursing officer, said all employees are screened before their shifts and follow proper protocol while on the job.

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Kingston said they’re educating their team on what’s safe to do when employees leave the hospital.

“We’ll be following up with individual nurses as needed,” Kingston said.

In a statement, Koutski’s employer said they’re “disappointed” given the information staff received. As businesses reopen, they expect everyone, nurses included, to continue the safety guidelines medical professionals urged all along.

“As a nurse, I understand the fear and uncertainty everyone is facing and how important it is to practice safety measures not only at sites of care, but while away from work,” Koutski said. “I let my guard down and apologize for making anyone feel uncomfortable or at risk.”

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*First Published: May 16, 2020, 3:01 pm