HCA Las Vegas hospital union asks state to probe employee working conditions

HCA Healthcare workers in Las Vegas have asked Nevada hospital regulators to investigate their claims of unsafe working conditions, according to the Las Vegas Review-Journal.

The workers, who are members of Service Employees International Union Local 1107, work at Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center, Sunrise Children's Hospital, Mountainview Hospital, and Southern Hills Hospital and Medical Center. 

They say their workplaces are insufficiently staffed amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and they do not have adequate personal protective equipment to protect against virus exposure, according to the Review Journal.

The also told Nevada regulators that employees infected with COVID-19 can be called back to work before they completely recover.

In a statement emailed to Becker's Hospital Review, HCA Far West Communications Manager Antonio Castelan said HCA is doing everything possible to provide safe, effective care of workers. He said HCA has enough PPE and is following CDC guidance to conserve it and be prepared for future needs.

"We have an assigned a clinician that is solely responsible for overseeing PPE inventory and stewardship, and we have deployed dedicated teams of educators, infection prevention experts and nurse leaders to provide support," Mr. Castelan added. "We continue to plan by accessing the resources, support and best practices across HCA Healthcare to help ensure we remain able to meet the needs of the communities we serve as the situation continues to evolve. Our hospitals are fully operational, and our staff’s focus, as always, is on providing exceptional quality patient care. We are disappointed that the union is taking this approach, as it is not constructive."

Mr. Castelan said HCA hospitals are following current CDC guidance, and employees are not required to test negative for COVID-19 before returning to work. According to the Review-Journal, he said employees who had mild to moderate COVID-19 cases can return to work after 10 days if symptoms have improved and they don't have a fever.

But the newspaper reports that Grace Vergara-Mactal, executive director of the SEIU union chapter, which is in contract negotiations with HCA Las Vegas hospitals, said HCA "should go above what the CDC guideline is."

The Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Public and Behavioral Health told Becker's Hospital Review via email that it received complaints from HCA Las Vegas hospital workers that included about 400 "assignment despite objection" forms, which are used to note that an assignment or condition is potentially unsafe for a patient and/or staff. 

The division stated that it will investigate the complaints and release the findings when complete. 


More articles on human resources:
University of Illinois Health workers threaten Chicago strike
HCA nurses win push for unionization election
New Labor Department definition of healthcare provider left many without paid sick leave, inspector general finds

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