Relatives of a 77-year-old resident of a Glendale nursing home sued the facility Thursday, alleging his April death occurred because of inadequate safety conditions during the coronavirus pandemic.
The family members of Ricardo Saldana filed the suit in Los Angeles Superior Court against Glenhaven Healthcare, alleging elder abuse, willful misconduct, negligence and wrongful death. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
"This is a case about profits over people,'' the suit states.
Glenhaven management released a statement regarding the lawsuit.
"Due to HIPAA and state privacy laws, we are absolutely prohibited from discussing any alleged current or former patient of our facility," the statement read. "In fact, we are unable to confirm whether any individual is or was a patient at our facility. We can definitively say that Glenhaven Healthcare heroes put our patients first every day. Our nurses are trained on and follow applicable guidelines from the Department of Public Health and the CDC. We are extremely proud of our ongoing service to our patients and the community during a time of enormous challenges for health care providers in our country.''
Saldana suffered a stroke in May 2014 and was ultimately admitted to Elms Convalescent Hospital, which was later acquired by Glenhaven, according to the suit.
An LA County database of nursing home facilities with case of coronavirus show that as of Thursday, Glenhaven Healthcare had five deaths and 17 residents and 15 staff were infected with COVID-19.
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Until March, Saldana's condition was stable and he was able to interact with his wife, Celia, and their children, Jackie, Maria and Ricardo Jr., the suit states.
Even as the state and Los Angeles County declared a state of emergency because of the coronavirus, Glenhaven failed to implement appropriate safety measures, the suit states.
Through March, Glenhaven did not provide employees with personal protective equipment and many times, members of the nursing staff brought their own masks and bandannas to wear while working because of their concerns for the virus, the suit states. However, staff members were told to take off their face coverings and that they were not allowed, despite the protests of one nurse who said she was sick and needed one, the suit alleges.
Management said protective items were not necessary "because no one would get sick," the suit states.
The local fire department delivered boxes of masks to the facility, but instead of distributing them to the staff, management locked them in a cabinet and would not allow employees to use them, according to the suit.
At one point, a nurse working at Glenhaven told management she had also been working at a facility in Burbank which was being shut down because of uncontrolled COVID-19 infections and that residents there exposed her to the virus, the suit states. But Glenhaven management did not tell any of the staff about the nurse's exposure and continued to allow her to work at Glenhaven, according to the suit.
After a Glenhaven staff member expressed concerns to Jackie Saldana that the staff was not allowed to wear masks around the plaintiff's father and other patients, Jackie Saldana reported the matter to health officials, the suit states.
In early April, management relented and said the Glenhaven staff could wear masks, but only those provided by the nursing home, the suit states.
But Glenhaven still did not implement an effective policy for isolating proven or suspected carriers of the coronavirus and as a result, the facility transferred a resident who had shared a room with a COVID-19-positive resident to a room with Saldana in late March, the suit states.
Saldana showed no symptoms of the virus before the move, but he developed a fever and other signs of the coronavirus after his new roomate arrived, the suit states. His condition continued to degrade and the staff attempted to treat the condition with medication, but he died from the virus April 13, the suit states.