Life Care Centers of America Inc. has fired one nurse who works in one of the nursing homes that they owned and banned another nurse from the establishment after the two were interviewed by the news site Reuters, who was then investigating the horrific conditions of the home.
Keeping the nurses silent
The facility was criticized for its poor management response to the coronavirus outbreak. One of the nurses, Colleen Lelievre, was fired by Life Care last week after the managers of the home, which is located in Littleton, Massachusetts, accused Lelievre of making clerical errors that involved narcotics for the residents.
Lelievre said that she was not informed of any issues until June 12, which was two days after Reuters published their report. Lisa Harmon, another nurse at the home, said that a manager banned her from entering the building on the same day that Lelievre was fired. Harmon was not given any explanation of why she was banned.
The report that Reuters published included interviews with Harmon and Lelievre describing an overworked and overwhelmed staff. A lot of workers had called in sick and even quit that the managers assigned a teenage nursing-assistant trainee to a shift caring for almost 30 dementia patients.
Around 80 to 90 hour work weeks became the norm in the home. In a dementia unit, the workers were unable to keep the residents from wandering into the hallways and entering the rooms of other patients. This was deemed dangerous because it can spread the coronavirus infection.
The two nurses also claimed that the management was not transparent about the outbreak and they did not provide staff testing until mid-May. After the testing, it showed that 34 workers had tested positive of the coronavirus. One nurse and 25 residents died of the virus according to a report published by Reuters.
The executive director of the facility, Amy Lamontagne, denied all of the claimed and said that she did not fire Lelievre for talking to Reuters. Lamontagne said that Harmon has not been fired but that the administrators wanted to meet with her to talk about the concerns that she mentioned in the article. According to Harmon, she has not been paid since she was banned from the facility.
As for Lelievre, Lamontagne said that she was terminated for errors in the administration and documentation of narcotics. However, she declines to comment on Lelievre's accusation that she was fired after the article came out. She only stated that they started investigating Lelievre two days before the article was published.
Life Care facility
Life Care is one of the largest nursing home operators in the United States, it has more than 200 homes. Beecher Hunter, the company president, did not respond to the requests for comment regarding the condition of the homes. Tim Killian, the company spokesman, declined to comment on the issue as well.
Aside from the overworked staff, Life Care was also accused of not taking any COVID-19 precautions as it presided over one of the first and deadliest outbreaks of the coronavirus at its nursing home in Kirkland, Washington. The nursing home was linked to 45 deaths, as reported by the New York Times.