‘Superbug’ Infections, Unsanitary Conditions Plague Pomona Valley Hospital

[Nov. 15, 2016] POMONA, Calif. – Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center (PVHMC) suffers from ‘superbug’ infections, unsanitary conditions, lack of training, and unresponsive managers that are compromising patient care and putting hospital patients and caregivers at risk, government reports and hospital employees say.

“I have had only one training in 12 years here, and that was done by a co-worker,” Maria Heredia, a housekeeper at Pomona Valley Hospital says in a new report on the hospital released today. “I have not received any training on infection control, what to do if I get infected or the difference between airborne infections and contact infections.”

Pomona Valley scored far worse than the national benchmark for patients acquiring Clostridium difficile (C. diff.), a highly contagious infection that causes severe diarrhea and is fatal in 6.5 percent of patients, according the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Over a three-year period ending in 2014, the hospital reported 143 C. diff. infections, according to Medicare.gov. During this period, Pomona Valley had 19 patients who had a C. diff. diagnosis that was not present on admission. These 19 patients later died in the hospital. Available public data does not specify the cause of their deaths. In 2015, the hospital had 97 cases of C. diff., significantly worse than the national benchmark, and nine cases of Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), also far worse than the national benchmark.

MRSA is a bacterial infection that is resistant to many antibiotics, which makes it tougher to treat than most strains of staphylococcus aureus – or Staph. As a result, it’s often called a “super bug” and the CDC considers it a “serious threat,” with a 14 percent mortality rate.

“We just started using Oxycide and there hasn’t really been any training,” said Samantha Chacon, a housekeeper at the hospital, referring to the cleaning product they use. “I know that with bleach we need to let it sit in a toilet of a C. diff. patient for at least three minutes. It’s written on our badge. I don’t know how much time is needed for Oxycide. I don’t think anyone in EVS knows.”

Problems persist in the hospital:

Unsanitary Conditions

Workers say safety protocols are not being observed, which leaves the facility unsanitary and susceptible to the spread of infections.

“In the operating room, they often irrigate to cool down the bones they’re cutting and that dirty water ends up on the floor, where doctors and other operating room staff step in it,” said Leticia Duarte, a housekeeper and nine-year employee at the hospital. “They track it around to other operating rooms because they don’t change their booties.”

Poor Communication, Needless Exposure to Infections

Workers say too often they are not notified when a patient is in “isolation” because of a highly contagious infection. Workers unwittingly walk into patient rooms and are not properly protected.

“I would say that as often as two or three times per month, I’m working with a patient and not covered with protective equipment before I’m told the patient is an isolation case,” said Socorro Valencia, a Certified Nursing Assistant and nine-year employee at the facility.

Unresponsive Management

Workers say Pomona Valley management rarely responds to their concerns about patient care and safety, dismissing the complaints or scrutinizing their job performance.

“Associates feel that if we raise this issue (unsanitary conditions) that management will ignore us, so no one wants to do it,” said Danny Hernandez, a housekeeper of seven years at the hospital. “Management doesn’t fix issues when we do raise them.”

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.

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