According to documents released on Thursday, federal workplace safety regulators fined Hackensack Meridian Health Nursing Home for giving adequate nursing masks to their nursing staff to treat COVID-19 patients during the epidemic in March.
The breach occurred in March at The Harborage, a 245-bed long-care facility adjoining Palisades Medical Center in northern Bergen, where at least 25 residents were killed by the virus.
As part of citations levied by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Hackensack Meridian – one of the state’s largest hospital chains – it will have to pay a fine of $ 28,070.
OSHA stated that on 23 and 24 March, house staff were required to wear surgical masks, but did not provide them with a more effective N95 mask. And the house did not train workers how to use the masks properly, nor did they ensure that the masks were the right fit.
Hackensack Meridian Health officials said they plan to dispute OSHA’s allegations and deny that they did anything to harm their workers.
Hackensack Meridian Health chief physician executive Daniel Varga said, “We feel that the safety standards we imposed during this emergency – yes they were in accordance with customized safety standards – but we are confident that they will keep our team members safe Were enough for. ” Interview.
Varga said the procedure was appropriately fitted to ensure the masks, but eventually “would not go into the room if they didn’t fit and they wouldn’t care for patients with COVID.”
According to Barbara Rosen, vice president of the Union of Health Professions and Allied Employees Nurses, it was “the first citation of its kind nationwide during the COVID-19 epidemic.”
“As a result of this abusive practice at Hackens Maridian Health, health care workers, including HPAE members, were exposed to the virus, infected with the virus and became ill,” Rosen said.
HPAE said two of its members died, both of whom worked at Palisades Medical Center: patient care technicians Nancy Martel and Alfredo Pabtao, who transported patients between The Harberges and the medical center.
OSHA officials did not immediately respond to additional requests for information and comment.