Feds, State Urged to Investigate Infections, Short Staffing at Pomona Hospital

[Oct. 24, 2016] POMONA, Calif. – Healthcare workers at Pomona Valley Hospital called on federal and state investigators to examine the mishandling of highly contagious patients and the treatment of some patients in hallways due to short staffing at the facility.

The practices undermine care and put patients, employees and visitors at risk, hospital employees say.

“We keep reporting these problems to hospital management but it seems like nothing is being done to protect the safety of workers, patients and the public,” said Jeanette Castillo, a phlebotomist at Pomona Valley. “No patient or worker should ever have to be afraid of entering the hospital and leaving with an acquired infection, and no patient should have their privacy violated because they are being treated in a hallway.”

In separate complaint letters sent to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the California Department of Public Health, workers report that in April 2016 they were needlessly exposed to a highly infectious patient put in the same room with a non-infected patient. Workers weren’t tested until four months later, in August 2016, for possible exposure but the hospital did not implement any new protocols to reduce the risk of transmission.

In the four months before they were tested, workers say, they could have spread the infection to their families, co-workers or other members of the community.

Workers urged investigators to review incidents of patients being treated in hallways, rather than in rooms with more privacy. Pomona Valley Hospital officials have regularly tried to maintain staffing ratios by temporarily closing parts of the emergency department, as occurred four times just in the last month, and resulted in patients receiving care in the hallway.

The hospital has repeatedly refused to recognize workers’ January 2016 vote to have a strong voice to improve patient care and join SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW). More than 1,100 Pomona Valley Hospital employees are affected by hospital management’s delaying tactics.

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