Former Maine hospital housekeeping director says he was fired for raising safety concerns

A man who worked as a housekeeping director at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston, Maine, has filed a lawsuit alleging he was fired in retaliation for reporting staffing and safety concerns.

The lawsuit, filed March 4 by Paul Blais in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maine, names St. Mary's and its parent company, Tewksbury, Mass.-based Covenant Health, as defendants.

Mr. Blais was employed by St. Mary's for more than 41 years and directed the environmental services program, including housekeeping and laundry, at St. Mary's Health System facilities until he was terminated in April 2020, according to the lawsuit. He alleges that he made oral reports about health and safety concerns in late 2018, and in January 2019, sent emails to supervisors about "the declining state of the housekeeping department" and housekeeping staff vacancies that needed to be filled to address unsafe conditions at St. Mary's Regional. 

The lawsuit alleges Mr. Blais was told to focus on the overall hospital budget and contends the hospital did not fully address his concerns about the level of cleanliness of the facility and safety of patients and staff. Mr. Blais said the hospital in May 2019 began to retaliate against him for repeatedly reporting his concerns to supervisors and administrators. The lawsuit claims the retaliatory acts, which included a written warning for lack of professionalism, continued and culminated in his termination. 

In a statement, Covenant Health said: "We are aware of this filing, and as this is a matter pending litigation, we will not be commenting further at this time."

Mr. Blais seeks lost pay and benefits as well as unspecified damages.

 

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