Minnesota nursing home gets state's largest COVID-19-related fine after employee's death

Sholom Community Alliance nursing home in St. Louis Park, Minn., has paid $27,100 in fines after an employee died from the coronavirus last May, the StarTribune reported April 25. 

David Kolleh, a manager at the facility's memory care unit, tested positive for the virus April 24. He later died from the virus at age 61. Before contracting COVID-19, Mr. Kolleh had been provided an N95 respirator to wear while at work , though was not given a medical evaluation or proper fit-testing, according to an OSHA inspection cited by the StarTribune. Inspectors determined the violations "caused or contributed" to Mr. Kolleh's death.

The Minnesota Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined the facility $25,000 for failing to enact an adequate respiratory program for workers and $2,100 for not reporting a work-related death. 

While the facility has paid the fine, Sholom CEO Barbara Klick told the news outlet no one can be certain where or when Mr. Kolleh contracted the virus, adding that he worked in at least one other similar facility. 

"We had an unknown, invisible enemy," she told the StarTribune. "We had no way of knowing where it was. And we had little tools to fight it." 

There's only been a few other cases before the pandemic where MNOSHA issued fines as high as the penalties Sholom paid, according to Dean Salita, lawyer who chairs the workers compensation section of the Minnesota Association for Justice. It's the state's largest fine issued for COVID-19-related workplace safety violations. 

"It just doesn't happen very often," Mr. Salita told the news outlet. "I think [the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry] and OSHA are on high alert to keep things safe, frankly. … This will wake up employers to be even safer, if they can."


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