Taken from NJ.com
April 29, 2020
A healthcare employee union filed a complaint Tuesday against a North Jersey hospital and nursing home for failing to provide equipment and follow safety requirements that could protect workers from getting the coronavirus, including one man who died last month.
Healthcare Professionals and Allied Employees filed the complaint with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration on behalf of the 900 employees who work at Hackensack Meridian Health Palisades Medical Center and 120 workers at The Harborage, the nursing home where patients leaving the hospital are often transferred.
Alfredo Pabatao, 68, a medical transporter at Palisades Medical Center and local 5030 member, died on March 26. His wife of 44 years, Susana, an assistant nurse at Bergen New Bridge Medical Center in Paramus, died from the virus four days later.
The union attributed Alfredo Pabatao’s death in part to the hospital’s failure to provide personal protective equipment, according to the complaint.
“Scores of Palisades and Harborage employees are sick right now, with some members recuperating at home and others hospitalized as a result of uncontrolled exposures to COVID-19 at these worksites throughout February, March and April of 2020,” according to the OSHA complaint. “COVID-19 infected employees risk permanent heart, lung, and renal failure, as well as death.”
The union announced the OSHA complaint on the same day it paid tribute to Pabatao and three other health care workers who have died from COVID-19, the respiratory disease the virus causes.
They were Maria Luisa Lopez, a nurse for 11 years and member of Local 5185 at Bayonne Medical Center; Susan Cicala, a nurse for 38 years and member of Local 5089 at Northern State Prison; and Nagi Abraham, member of local 5094 and 11-year veteran of the lab/hematology department at University Hospital in Newark, the union announcement said.
“We must respect the memories of the heroes we have lost and provide these brave workers, who risk their lives daily, with the resources they need on the frontlines to care for these patients,” HPAE President and registered nurse Debbie White said.
Palisades Chief Hospital Executive Anthony Passannante did not address the OSHA complaint directly but in a statement said the hospital’s “policies and procedures to protect our team members and patients that are all in accordance with CDC guidelines.”