Press Release: Caregivers to address unsafe conditions as COVID-19 cases surge inside Orange County’s largest for-profit hospital

Fountain Valley Regional Medical CenterJuly 1, 2020

Media Advisory — Fountain Valley

Lax infection-control protocols at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital have contributed to several workers recently testing positive for COVID-19 or being hospitalized

FOUNTAIN VALLEY, Calif. — Caregivers at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital will be available to talk to reporters Thursday morning about unsafe conditions at Tenet Healthcare’s Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.

  • WHAT: News conference attended by several dozen caregivers represented by the National Union of Healthcare Workers (NUHW)
  • WHEN: 11 a.m. Thursday, July 2. Several workers will be available for one-on-one interviews starting at 10:30 a.m. and following the news conference. 
  • WHERE: Outside Fountain Valley Regional Hospital, 17100 Euclid St, Fountain Valley

Despite a threefold increase of COVID-positive and PUI patients in recent weeks, Fountain Valley has refused requests from workers to implement infection control best practices that have been adopted by many other hospitals.

In following only the bare minimum federal safety guidelines, Fountain Valley hospital is:

  1. Refusing to test all newly admitted patients for COVID-19.
  2. Requiring workers to care for both COVID-positive patients and non-COVID patients on the same shift, while wearing the same protective face coverings.
  3. Refusing to test workers who have been potentially exposed to COVID-19, and making many of them continue working in the hospital.

“It’s completely unsafe,” said Christina Rodriguez, a respiratory therapist, who suffers from asthma and diabetes and must socially distance from her husband, who is a cancer patient. “They only care about their bottom line. Cases are going up. Incidents of exposure are going up. We’re at war with something we can’t see, and we’re expendable.”

Over the past two weeks, at least four Fountain Valley nursing assistants have tested positive for COVID-19. Two of those workers tested positive after caring for patients who turned out to be COVID-positive, but had not been initially tested by the hospital. Last week, a medical transporter informed management that a household member had tested positive for COVID-19, but was denied a test and told to continue working. The transporter was later hospitalized for COVID-19, and at least five colleagues have either become ill or been required to quarantine due to exposure.

“Workers at Fountain Valley are asking for basic protections that many other hospitals are providing,” NUHW President Sal Rosselli said. “We’re concerned that the inadequate COVID infection protocols at Fountain Valley are emblematic of other Tenet Healthcare hospitals in the region. Tenet has $2.2 billion in cash reserves, but it was unprepared for this pandemic in March, and it’s still unprepared and unwilling to safely address it today.”

The National Union of Healthcare Workers is a member-led movement that represents 15,000 healthcare workers including more than 600 nursing assistants, respiratory therapists, medical technicians and other workers at Fountain Valley Regional Hospital.

Fountain Valley Regional Hospital is a 400-bed acute care hospital owned by Tenet Healthcare, a Dallas-based Fortune 500 company with 65 hospitals and approximately 500 other healthcare facilities.

Pre-pandemic photo by OC Weekly.