Largest U.S. hospital owner accused in lawsuit of endangering staff during coronavirus pandemic

Monique Hernandez registered nurse at Riverside neighborhood hospital is overcome with feelings during a memorial and candle mild vigil for Hollywood Presbyterian Nurse Celia Marcos who died two days after testing optimistic for Coronavirus at Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in Los Angeles on Wednesday, May 6, 2020.

Keith Birmingham | MediaNews Group | Pasadena Star-News by way of Getty Images

A bunch of well being staff and their union sued the nation’s largest hospital chain, accusing an HCA Healthcare medical middle of recklessly endangering staff and sufferers by violating federal coronavirus steerage on protecting tools.

The go well with filed Thursday alleges that administration at HCA’s Riverside Community Hospital in Southern California failed to supply staff with satisfactory protecting tools, akin to masks and robes, and pressured staff to disregard security precautions to fulfill quotas. It says the hospital additionally did not alert staff to doable Covid-19 exposures and pressured staff who had signs to return to work.

The hospital “failed to take reasonable and necessary precautions to protect their employees, patients, visitors, and the community from the harmful effects of COVID-19, thereby facilitating the spread of the virus and putting the surrounding community at an unnecessarily heightened risk of infection,” the go well with says.

The case, filed in the Riverside County Superior Court, is the primary towards a nationwide health-care firm, in accordance with the Service Employees International Union, which initiated the go well with on behalf of its 97,000 members.

Riverside Community Hospital mentioned it disputes the claims, and “we will defend it vigorously.”

“No one takes the health and safety of our workers more seriously than we do, and since day one, our top priority has been to protect them— to keep them safe and keep them employed — so they can best care for our patients,” a spokesman for the hospital mentioned. “Any suggestion otherwise ignores the extensive work, planning and training we have done to ensure the delivery of high quality care during this pandemic.”

The 4 individuals in the go well with embody three hospital staff who had been contaminated with Covid-19 and one whose mom, additionally an worker of the hospital, died of Covid-19.

“These individuals also believe they unknowingly spread the disease to family members or others in the community,” the go well with says. “Each of the individual Plaintiffs is a member of a racial minority group, making them statistically more likely to contract COVID-19, and more likely to suffer serious symptoms, including death.”

The go well with alleges that the “policies and practices” of the hospital “created or substantially assisted in the creation” of a public nuisance violation. The go well with additionally says the hospital was negligent. 

The hospital precipitated “substantial, life-threatening harms to the health and safety” of the employees in addition to to the neighborhood, the go well with alleges. It additionally “led to the death of a worker from COVID-19, depriving her family of future economic and non-economic benefits.”

Hospital administration allegedly pressured one plaintiff, Ray Valdivia, into working regardless of exhibiting Covid-19 signs, the go well with says. It says Valdivia examined optimistic for Covid-19 “hours after finishing this shift.” Over a month after Valdivia initially examined optimistic for Covid-19 and was nonetheless experiencing signs, he was directed to return to work except he examined optimistic for the virus once more, the go well with says. It provides that Valdivia bought examined, labored one shift, after which obtained the second check outcomes, which confirmed a optimistic studying.

The hospital and company guardian “fell far short of the CDC recommendations,” the go well with says, including that some hospital staff had been “verbally abused” by supervisors for requesting masks and face shields.

HCA’s inventory worth was up greater than 1% Friday afternoon. The firm reported web revenue of about $1.08 billion for the second quarter, together with $822 million in authorities aid that was offered to offset prices to hospitals brought on by the pandemic.

As of June 30, HCA operated 186 hospitals and about 2,000 different care websites in 21 states and the United Kingdom, in accordance with the corporate’s second-quarter earnings report.

The go well with follows a comparable go well with filed by the New York State Nurses Association in April when hospitals throughout New York and particularly New York City had been overwhelmed by Covid-19 sufferers.

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