RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – A Virginia nurse is taking names and calling on lawmakers to expand workers' compensation to include bed bug damages. Since our last report, she's launched a petition signing rally.
Nurse Jocelyn Perkins is working to put thousands of bed bug signatures on the governor's desk. She's pushing for compensation for damages, and penalties when a job site knows it has an infestation but doesn't tell healthcare workers about bed bugs.
Nurse Jocelyn has already met healthcare workers fearful of getting fired too afraid to sign the petition.
"I'm not giving out any names," she said. "Nobody's going to know who signed this petition but the governor's office."
Still her project is gaining momentum. A fellow co-worker is now helping, even though both nurses have been warned not to name their employer or the Fan district senior apartment building where Jocelyn was allegedly exposed to bed bugs.
"We were both in the facility," said Dixie McElfresh, Nurse and Co-worker of Jocelyn Perkins. "It's very upsetting because I know if I get them, I have no body backing me up either. We're left out there to handle it on our own and it shouldn't be that way."
Bed bugs infested her home. Jocelyn believes the blood suckers traveled in her nurse's bag and on her body from work to home and she's stuck with the cost of getting rid of them.
"I have to get rid of all my upstairs furniture. I have to pay for fumigation. I'm up to $5,000 in losses," Jocelyn said.
The nurses say thousands of healthcare workers enter homes every day and are not protected under Virginia's Workers' Compensation Act.
"The biggest protection is hey let me know they're there. Exactly let me know they're there so I can protect myself," Dixie said.
"If you do not divulge the information then you are going to be held liable. You are going to pay for me to get rid of my bedbugs. You knew. Cause they knew and did not tell me," Jocelyn added.
A petition signing rally is planned this coming Saturday.
"I want everyone to come out because eventually it will affect everyone," she said.
The petition signing rally is Saturday, June 11th, at Second Baptist Church, 3300 Broad Rock Boulevard from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. The petition can also be signed online.