Chicago hospital faces $13K penalty after OSHA cites 'serious' respirator mask violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued a $13,494 penalty to Chicago-based Community First Medical Center in December after an inspection found violations related to respirator mask policies, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Feb. 24. 

OSHA cited the hospital for two "serious" violations for failing to test employees to ensure a proper fit of their respirator masks and for not implementing a written "respiratory protection program," according to the inspection document referenced by the Sun-Times

The hospital is contesting the violations. 

Some Community First Medical Center nurses, who unionized as members of National Nurses United in 2019 and are now negotiating a contract with the hospital, say the the inspection was prompted by a federal complaint they filed after three nurses contracted COVID-19 and died, according to the Sun-Times. They blame a lack of adequate personal protective equipment at the hospital, which allegedly forced some workers to buy their own respirators.

The hospital denies the allegation. 

"As with all community hospitals across the country, Community First Medical Center has felt the devastating impact of the COVID-19 pandemic firsthand," the hospital said in a statement shared with Becker's Feb. 26. "All loss of life associated with this pandemic is met with great sorrow, particularly by those who are professionally engaged in treating the ill and injured on a daily basis. Our colleagues have become ill and some have made the ultimate sacrifice for their profession." 

OSHA has not cited the hospital for failling to provide appropriate or adequate PPE, according to the statement. 

More articles on infection control:

Physician viewpoint: Hospital-acquired COVID-19. is rampant, but facilities aren't sounding the alarm
Focus on COVID-19 facilitated spread of drug-resistant infections, experts say
5 staff infected in COVID-19 outbreak at Vermont hospital's oncology unit


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