FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, August 20, 2020
CONTACT: Renée Saldaña, [email protected]
First-in-the-Nation Lawsuit Against National Hospital Chain Alleges its Reckless Actions Spread COVID to Patients, Workers, Public
Workers and Family Members Layout How HCA Healthcare and Riverside Community Hospital Put Entire Community at Risk
RIVERSIDE, Calif. – A lawsuit filed in Superior Court (click to access) here is the first in the nation to allege that a major national hospital chain – HCA Healthcare, the country’s largest for-profit health system – and its hospital in Riverside recklessly facilitated the spread of COVID-19, putting patients, workers and the surrounding community at a heightened risk of infection.
The plaintiffs in the case include three Riverside Community Hospital (RCH) workers who contracted COVID-19, and the daughter of an RCH employee who got sick with the virus and subsequently died.
“All of us as healthcare workers know we face higher risks in a hospital environment where we work in close proximity to patients suffering from COVID-19, but this hospital and its parent company didn’t follow CDC guidelines and didn’t seem to care about our safety or the safety of our patients,” said one of the plaintiffs, Gladys Reyes, who works as a lab assistant and phlebotomist at RCH and tested positive for the virus in June. “I was told I didn’t need a second COVID-19 test before returning to work in July even though I still had symptoms. I took one anyway and tested positive.”
The lawsuit alleges that HCA and RCH took actions that created a dangerous work environment for RCH employees during the COVID-19 pandemic, which in turn created a “public nuisance” resulting in dangerous conditions for patients, visitors, and the community. Those actions include:
Defendants in the suit are HCA Healthcare, which made more than $1 billion in profits in the second quarter of 2020 and has received $6 billion in federal bailout money; Samuel N. Hazen, CEO of HCA Healthcare who was paid nearly $27 million in 2019; Riverside Healthcare System L.P. d/b/a Riverside Community Hospital; and Jackie DeSouza-Van Blaricum, CEO of RCH.
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SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is one of the largest unions of hospital workers in the United States, with 97,000 members. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.