State complaint accuses Virginia Mason Memorial of jeopardizing staff, patient safety

Two nurses at Virginia Mason Memorial in Yakima, Wash., have filed a complaint alleging the hospital is jeopardizing patient and employee safety due to inadequate staffing and its personal protective equipment practices, the Yakima Herald-Republic reported.

Sylvia Keller and Alice Westphal filed the complaint in early August with the state health department, which conducts hospital oversight under hospital licensing regulations.

The nurses allege Virginia Mason Memorial's critical care unit has been understaffed during the pandemic, averaging one nurse per three patients, according to the Herald-Republic.

The complaint says cleaning staff also did not receive adequate PPE in April, that nurses were told to reuse N95 masks and gowns, and that Virginia Mason Memorial did not inform employees about known COVID-19 exposures, the publication reported.

Washington State Department of Health spokesperson Kristen Maki confirmed receipt of the complaint to Becker's Hospital Review.

After receiving a complaint, the department's case management team typically reviews it to determine if an investigation is warranted, she said. Because the department does not announce authorized investigations, she could not confirm or deny whether the department has opened an investigation into Virginia Mason Memorial.

Virginia Mason Memorial said in a statement shared with Becker's: "The health and safety of our patients and team members is the highest priority at Virginia Mason Memorial. Although we are aware of the complaint, per hospital protocol we cannot respond to your request for comment. We will respond to any inquiries from the state department of health."


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