RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – Bed bugs don't discriminate but, Virginia's Workers' Compensation Law apparently does. One nurse is raising new questions about bed bug infestation and exposure on the job for health care workers.
Nurse Jocelyn Perkins claims to have gotten bed bugs while providing care to elderly and disabled patients at a Richmond retirement facility. She sought financial help getting rid of them from her employer and soon found out injuries from bed bugs are not covered by workers comp.
Nurse Jocelyn's core concern is this, mattresses and furniture she's had to discard because of a bed bug infestation in her home, and the harm she says she exposed her family to coming home from work.
"I feel violated. You didn't give me the information. I have a family I come home to every night. You didn't think of them," said Nurse Jocelyn Perkins.
She's referring to managers at the Fan District Retirement Facility where she saw patients four hours a day. She says a social worker called one day asking if she had bed bugs because the retirement home had them. Soon after telling the social worker no, she discovered bed bugs had invaded her home biting her family in their sleep. Her job advised her not to name her employer and the social worker denies the call was ever made.
"My supervisor is going to try to work on it for me. He is caring and concerned about what I'm going through but it's not covered under workman's compensation," she said.
No reimbursement for the roughly $2,000 in bed bug treatments she must pay. It's denied says legal aid.
"Obviously bug bites occur over a long period of time, not like a snake bite that occurs in one sudden instant," said Martin Wegbreit with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society.
The victim turned activist wants changes.
"Nurses, physical therapists, everybody that goes into a home, they should know that they are not protected," Jocelyn said.
Jocelyn wants to hear from others in the health care profession. She's circulating a petition among health care providers who want to start dialogue which they hope will result in more disclosure and changes in Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act.
12 on Your Side got word that health care managers are also discussing petitioning the governor for help with the bed bug problem. We reached out to the governor's office for comment. We're waiting for a response.