Hollywood Presbyterian Fined After Nurse Dies of COVID-19

Hollywood Presbyterian

LOS ANGELES, Calif. — Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center has been fined $57,120 after a nurse died from the coronavirus.

California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health (OSHA), which issued the fine, started investigating the hospital following the April death of 61-year-old Celia Marcos, reports The LA Times.

The Times had previously reported that Marcos died 14 days after entering the room of a COVID-19 patient without proper personal protective equipment (PPE).

Although the Sept. 25 citation doesn’t mention Marcos by name, investigators found unsafe exposures among staff on April 3, the day Marcos allegedly entered the sick patient’s room. The report also refers to a staff member who died on April 17, the day of Marcos’ death. Additionally, the hospital was cited for not reporting Marcos’ death to OSHA or the local health department and for not notifying staff she worked with of their potential exposure.

The citation also found several other COVID-19 violations, including:

  • Improper reuse of N95 masks
  • Not fit-testing masks to ensure they properly fit staff
  • Not having enough disinfectant supplies for staff to clean high-touch surfaces
  • Not having a complete plan for how to protect staff from aerosolized transmission of viruses
  • Staff were told to hang their gowns on hooks outside patient rooms to be reused, which increases the possibility of the gowns being contaminated with germs

Other California hospitals have recently been fined by OSHA for lack of coronavirus protections for employees, including Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco and Santa Clara Valley Medical Center. However, the fine against Hollywood Presbyterian is the largest.

Marcos, who had worked at Hollywood Presbyterian for 16 years, had covered a night shift on a ward that was housing coronavirus patients when designated COVID units were full. Since the floor wasn’t dedicated to COVID patients, N95 masks weren’t regularly given to employees and were reserved for those exclusively treating coronavirus patients, according to staff.

When Marcos entered the COVID patient’s room, the only PPE she was wearing was a surgical mask. She was in the room for at least 30 minutes while the patient was intubated, staff say.

According to hospital staff interviews conducted by the Times and text messages sent by Marcos,  the patient she was treating was exhibiting symptoms. However, hospital administrators say the man did not have COVID-19.

In a statement, the hospital said it “could not determine that her COVID-19 illness was contracted at work, especially given the ample controls the hospital has in place, including but not limited to universal masking, stringent screening of patients and staff, disinfection, ventilation.”

Hollywood Presbyterian officials say they will appeal the citation.

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