Whistleblower Alleges Executives at the Minnesota St. Therese of New Hope Nursing Home have asked staff to ignore COVID-19 health regulations, according to a September 15 statement item in the Star Tribune.
Brooke Peoples, who previously worked as an administrator at the New Hope, Minnesota facility, alleges in lawsuit that “senior executives at the 258-bed nursing home told employees to ‘ignore and violate’ guidelines state and federal government visits and quarantine of newly admitted patients, even after more than 60 people who lived in the facility died from the coronavirus. She alleges that leaders in Sainte-Thérèse took a “lax approach to the lethal potential of the pandemic” and asked staff to ignore guidelines from the state Department of Health, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Peoples lawyer Lori Peterson said one such violation occurred when “a relative of one of the directors of Sainte-Thérèse” was “admitted to the nursing home from a hospital without following federal quarantine guidelines ”. This action, said Peterson, “potentially exposed residents and staff to infection.” In addition, Peoples alleges “that a lack of communication between the leaders of Sainte-Thérèse delayed the deployment of new infection control measures”.
According to the lawsuit, Peoples claims that “she was fired less than a month after warning her superiors that the nursing home was putting patients and staff at risk.” The article indicates that a general manager of Sainte-Thérèse fired Peoples “then falsely said that his dismissal was due to a loss of confidence in his capacities of leadership”. Peoples alleges that his dismissal is in violation of the Minnesota Whistleblower Act. She also says the reasons given for her dismissal “are contradicted by a series of laudatory job performance reviews she has received since she started working at the retirement home in 2017”. The trial contains excerpts from these performance reviews.
With the lawsuit, Peoples “asks a judge to order Sainte-Thérèse to reimburse her for lost wages and other losses linked to her dismissal.”
The Star Tribune The article details how nursing homes in Minnesota have been severely affected throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. “Since the start of the pandemic, 4,597 residents of long-term care communities have died from COVID-19 – accounting for 58% of all deaths from the virus in Minnesota, state records show. According to the article, in the fall of 2020, “some facilities became so overwhelmed that they contacted the Minnesota National Guard for emergency personnel assistance.”
The Star Tribune reports that in May 2020, “Nearly 50 residents de Sainte-Thérèse died of COVID-19 … Last week, the nursing home recorded 313 infections and 84 resident deaths from the virus – the second deadliest toll among long-term care facilities in the State, according to a database of the state health department. “
Sainte-Thérèse also has a history of health and safety violations, the article points out. The institution has been cited eleven times in a control 2018 “For a variety of health and quality of life standards”. Saint Teresa was quoted ten times in February Control 2020 for more violations “including failure to adhere to handwashing, glove use and other hygiene protocols, which could potentially affect more than 50 residents, staff and visitors,” according to the ‘inspection. However, the article notes that since the fall of 2020, Sainte-Thérèse “has maintained a strong infection control record,” according to recordings.
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