Kindred Westminster workers picket for stronger infection control measures

July 28th, 2020

Workers at Kindred Hospital Westminster picketed outside the hospital on July 23 to demand immediate measures to protect them and their patients from further infection inside the 109-bed long-term care hospital.

“We can’t stay silent while this hospital refuses to take common sense precautions to keep workers and patients safe,” said Paul Chang, a nurse at the hospital. “We need more workers on every shift, more protective equipment, and a dedicated unit to house our COVID-19 patients.”

Among the news outlets covering the picket were the Orange County Register, Voice of OC, Univision, and KTLA.

At the time of the protest, seven of Kindred Westminster’s nearly 80 patients were COVID-positive. Additionally, 16 workers had tested positive, including six who are now on medical leave and another four who have been quarantined.

Management is rejecting workers’ requests to do the following.

  1. Establish a dedicated COVID-19 unit that fully isolates COVID-positive patients. 
  2. Provide regular COVID testing to lower the risk of a major outbreak by making sure workers aren’t unintentionally bringing the virus into the long-term care facility.
  3. Provide sufficient PPE, including N95 masks for all workers. 
  4. Increase staffing so nurses don’t have to routinely work through their breaks. 

As a long-term care hospital, Kindred Westminster serves many elderly patients transitioning from critical care settings. The hospital admits both COVID-positive patients transferred from acute-care hospitals as well as non-COVID patients who have compromised immune symptoms and are at higher risk for severe illness or death from the coronavirus.

Workers are demanding stronger safety protocols to avoid what happened at a nearby Kindred hospital in Brea, where a COVID outbreak left more than 40 percent of patients infected, as well as 27 caregivers, including Roda Vicuna, a nurse who died from the virus.

“This is about preventing another deadly outbreak and keeping caregivers and patients safe,” said Josh Fernandez, a respiratory therapist. “We are taking every precaution we can to keep our families safe, but our hospital is putting us at risk because it doesn’t want to pay for stronger infection control measures.”