OSHA investigating COVID-19 protocol at Upstate New York hospital

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The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating Albany (N.Y.) Medical Center over COVID-19 protocol involving personal protective equipment and employees who have contracted the virus, the agency said in a letter to the hospital.

The Nov. 27 letter, provided to Becker's by the New York State Nurses Association, requests information and documents including the facility's COVID-19 protocol documents, policies and procedures, as well as a description of any PPE shortages. OSHA also requests descriptions of COVID-19 testing frequency and requirements and protocol if an employee tests positive for the virus, among other asks.

The agency said the letter is a follow-up to the OSHA inspection held at Albany Medical Center beginning Nov. 25. A spokesperson said the inspection is based on a health-related referral/complaint. 

Last month, the union, which represents about 2,000 nurses at the hospital, filed a complaint with OSHA, alleging Albany Medical Center is forcing members to reuse N95 masks up to 20 times on many different people and that the hospital is not adhering to CDC guidelines for use of reprocessed respirators. 

In a statement provided to Becker's, Albany Medical Center said it is prioritizing safety.

"Our safe reprocessing of N95 masks complies with all state and federal guidance and ensures we have the necessary reserves. Each mask is inspected before being kept or destroyed. Masks are readily available, and if an employee does not wish to reuse a mask, they do not have to," the hospital said.  

Albany Medical Center said it is reviewing letters from OSHA and will provide the information it seeks. 

 

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