State regulators fined Kaiser Permanente $55,350 for safety violations at its Santa Rosa Medical Center, accusing Sonoma County’s largest healthcare provider of failing to take appropriate measures to prevent the spread of COVID-19 among its workforce.
The fine is being questioned by Kaiser. It was the result of a six-month investigation initiated by the California Department of Occupational Safety and Health last year. The investigation found that HMO did not properly train employees to protect themselves from airborne pathogens. And did not remind workers that they had been exposed to the coronavirus.
Cal/OSHA said Kaiser did not conduct a full investigation of these exposures, which occurred in the emergency room and the first level of care for COVID-1
Kaiser Permanente immediately appealed and denied some of these allegations, saying that these allegations date back to the early days of the pandemic, when some current state and federal regulations had not yet been issued.
The company said in a statement to a spokesperson on Friday: “The interpretation of these quotations is misleading and indicates any continued and serious violation of Kaiser Permanente’s current public health guidelines. In fact, these quotations are mainly from the pandemic. Early allegations. Because the health care system, including us, is responding to the country’s shortages and evolving public health guidance.”
An analysis by CalMatters, a non-profit news organization based in Sacramento, revealed that California’s regulators report that violations of workplace safety regulations at Kaiser Permanente facilities are more frequent than any other employer in the state. Many, was fined nearly 500,000 US dollars.
State inspectors found that the emperor’s facilities throughout the state were improperly trained in regulations for airborne hazards, worn and irregular equipment, and failure to report the COVID-19 outbreak. A spokesperson for the agency said that in many cases, Cal/OSHA responded to complaints, and some investigations started after employees were hospitalized for COVID-19.
The highest fine was imposed on Kaiser San Leandro Medical Center at $87,500. The quote stated that the facility failed to notify Cal/OSHA on multiple occasions when employees were hospitalized due to COVID-19.
The Santa Rosa Medical Center’s fines rank fifth among the 12 Caesars medical facilities cited by state regulators. It lags behind facilities in San Leandro, Oakland, Antioch, and San Jose. The fines include a fine of $43,000 because at least 60 employees are ill after a colleague who later tested positive for the coronavirus. The emergency room wore an inflatable Christmas tree outfit.
Kaiser Permanente claimed in an email that these violations stemmed from complaints filed by advocacy organizations that “worked hard to file OSHA complaints as part of their campaign to advocate for change.”
According to the documents, Cal/OSHA’s inspection of the Santa Rosa Medical Center involving Kaiser began on May 6 and continued until November 5. All violations occurred “before and during the inspection”. A Cal/OSHA spokesperson said that violations may be discovered at any time or any time within that date range.
These four citations indicate that the company cannot properly respond to viruses exposed in the workplace under certain circumstances, does not properly train employees how to protect themselves from airborne pathogens, does not provide proper instructions on the use of respirators, and Failure to properly screen patients and employees into its facilities.
The most serious citation involves the company’s workplace exposure procedures. Cal/OSHA reported that officials at Santa Rosa Medical Center failed to investigate the exposure at its facility. The state regulator said that the company has not notified employees of “those who are in serious contact with COVID-19 cases and suspicious cases, and provide these employees with post-exposure medical services.”
The citation alone will result in a fine of $18,000.
Laura Rosenthal, a Santa Rosa law firm that specializes in workers’ compensation laws, said the timing of violations is critical to understanding its meaning.
Rosenthal regrets that for any worker or patient, the failure of a healthcare company to notify employees of possible exposure should be a cause for serious concern.
Rosenthal said, “These are all solvable,” he reads the state’s summary citation report. “My biggest worry is to know if they solved these problems, not fines, but did they solve these problems?”
The union representing Kaiser employees rejected the company’s claims that the violations were outdated or invalid.
SEIU United Healthcare Workers West press secretary Renee Saldaña said that failure to report workplace exposures to employees has been “the biggest problem we face across the union.” Saldanha said this is a problem for medical staff in almost all medical institutions, not just Caesars Hospital.
She said: “This has always been the main concern of all our members.”
Cindy Krahn, the chief nurse representative of the Santa Rosa members of the California Nurses Association, said their members reported that even after the citation was published in November, they still saw those ventilators tied with catheters despite this practice No longer exists.
Krahne, who serves COVID-19 patients in the 4West surgical department, said that she and other members are still concerned about how some managers restrict the use of personal protective equipment and the company’s policy to notify employees of possible exposure to COVID-19 cases.
“We know that there is no need for employers to notify possible exposures, and we don’t feel really safe about it,” Krahne said.
Kaiser Permanente called for “every citation” from Cal/OSHA statewide, noting that these citations “are not considered final.”
According to Cal/OSHA, employers can reduce fines by solving problems and can also provide evidence to refute the effectiveness of violations.
The company said in a statement: “There is no doubt that our medical center is a safe place to work and receive care.”
In September, Cal/OSHA announced a fine of $32,000 on the Santa Rosa Police Department for failing to protect employees from the coronavirus. Cal/OSHA said a veteran detective who died of the disease was in contact with a colleague who knew the symptoms of COVID-19 at work.
The department filed an appeal on November 17.
You can contact staff writer Julie Johnson at 707-521-5220 or Julie.email@example.com. On Twitter @jjpressdem.