Mismanagement fueling COVID-19 outbreak at California hospital, workers claim

Employees at a California hospital claim poor management is driving an outbreak as new masks run low and COVID-19 patients are mixed with non-COVID-19 patients, according to the Voice of OC.

Respiratory therapist Christina Rodriguez told Voice of OC July 2 that the intensive care unit at Fountain Valley (Calif.) Regional Hospital and Medical Center "looks like a war zone" and that she has "never seen anything like this."

The hospital's parent company, Dallas-based Tenet Healthcare, issued a statement July 2 saying patient and staff safety is its most important priority. The hospital's safety practices amid the pandemic are consistent with guidelines from the CDC and California Department of Public Health, the statement reads.

However, in a July 7 Voice of OC article, National Union of Healthcare Workers spokesperson Barbara Lewis said management hasn't addressed "the 15 very specific examples that we provided where there was a failure in testing, tracing and PPE." 

Ms. Lewis said several nurses have tested positive for COVID-19. Not properly separating patients, short staffing, and a lack of testing and protective gear has led to an outbreak, she said.

Melissa Moore, RN, said she quit after 12 years with the hospital because of the conditions, according to Voice of OC. The nurse said she was exposed to the virus several times while working at the hospital and was told to work while her COVID-19 test results were pending.  

A nurse said during a July 7 interview that adult patients are in the pediatric section because the hospital is running out of room. The nurse wanted to remain anonymous for fear of retaliation. 

Tenet spokesperson Jessica Chen disputed this claim in a July 7 statement to Voice of OC. "We are not at capacity," the statement reads.

"Many of the statements made by the union last week were false or inaccurate," the statement continues. "We are in constant contact with union representatives, sometimes on a daily basis. During these conversations and/or meetings, we discuss the ever-changing and unprecedented pandemic all hospitals are facing. We discuss the many safety and infection control protocols in effect at our hospital, PPE protocols and inventory, as well as the numerous other actions we have taken to ensure the safety of our employees and our patients." 


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