Coronavirus: SF General Hospital ER staffer has COVID-19, workers file complaint claiming lack of protections

The March 16 letter, written by Denis McComb, district manager for Cal/OSHA’s San Francisco office, ordered the city to investigate the allegations and report findings to Cal/OSHA.

San Francisco General responded on Tuesday, with Ehrlich saying the hospital investigated the allegations and determined that it’s 
satisfying all regulations designed to protect its workers.

“During our investigation, we did not find anything that constituted a violation of (regulations),” she wrote. “Should you have or obtain additional information with regards to the alleged failure to meet ... requirements, we will be happy to investigate further.”

Cal/OSHA is not investigating the hospital over the complaints, and it San Francisco News is not issuing any citations, the letter to the hospital said. If the hospital’s inquiry into the investigation or its response is deemed inadequate, an inspection could be conducted, said Frank Polizzi, spokesman for the state Department of Industrial Relations, which includes Cal/OSHA.

While the complaint may be the first against the hospital involving the coronavirus outbreak, the state Department of Public Health and Cal/OSHA are already investigating San Francisco General after complaints that workers have not been protected from assaults.

Nurses have also complained about inadequate staffing and a lack of preparedness for the COVID-19 outbreak. Health care workers at Laguna Honda Hospital, a nursing home also operated by the city, have made similar complaints. That hospital was placed on lockdown Wednesday after five staffers tested positive for the coronavirus.

Brent Andrew, a San Francisco General spokesman, described the Cal/OSHA letter as a routine procedure whenever a complaint is filed with the agency. He declined to Press Release Distribution Services In San Francisco respond to the specific allegations, saying they would be included in the hospital’s official response.

Andrew defended efforts taken to protect hospital employees from the coronavirus.

“We’re in almost constant contact with our employees,” he said. “Training, keeping them up to date on the number of cases, the number of people under investigation, changes in process and procedure — we are literally almost in constant contact with our entire staff. There is nothing more important than keeping our staff safe and healthy.”

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