California hospital site of worker safety counterprotests


Nurses at St. Rose Hospital in Hayward, Calif., held counter demonstrations this week over safety protections for workers, The Mercury News reports.  

During one demonstration, members of the California Nurses Association alleged hospital leaders did not provide a safe workplace, according to the newspaper. But there was also a counterprotest by other nurses and healthcare workers who dispute that assertion.

The dueling demonstrations came amid the COVID-19 pandemic and after an altercation between a nurse at the hospital and a hospital visitor in November.

At least 38 hospital workers have contracted COVID-19, according to The Mercury News. The hospital has told the newspaper there is no evidence they were infected at the hospital and that it has safety measures in place, including screening workers for COVID-19 symptoms and mandating personal protective equipment.

The California Division of Occupational Safety and Health confirmed the agency completed a complaint-based investigation opened in December at the hospital. 

After that investigation, the agency issued three citations — one classified as serious, one general and one regulatory — and recommended $8,160 in fines for the hospital Frank Polizzi, a spokesperson for the state's OSHA division, told Becker's Hospital Review

Violations included failure to implement post-incident response after the November altercation and failure to ensure sufficient staffing in the emergency department to respond to workplace violence during each shift.

Mr. Polizzi said St. Rose must correct violations, and it has the right to appeal the citations.

Sam Singer, a spokesperson for the hospital, told Becker's St. Rose is aware of a single preliminary citation, regarding the nurse altercation, which the hospital plans to appeal. 

"The hospital has videotape of the incident that shows beyond a doubt that the male nurse himself and the union filed a false claim with Cal-OSHA, as the video demonstrates that he was the aggressor and not the victim of violence at St. Rose," he said. "Nurses are support to help people, not attempt to hurt them by throwing them to the ground."

Mr. Singer also issued a formal hospital statement saying the hospital has disciplined the nurse, which, according to The Mercury News, the union is contesting.

The hospital statement also said St. Rose "effectively established, implemented and maintained a workplace violence prevention plan"; and St. Rose is confident it will win its appeal based on evidence.


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