Nurse barred from workplace after detailing Covid-19 nightmare in nursing home

Life Care Center of Nashoba Valle, Lisa Harmon
The Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley barred nurse Lisa Harmon from returning after she alleged mismanagement in response to coronavirus. (Picture: Reuters/Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley)

 

A nursing home worker has been barred from coming back to her workplace after she detailed horrific conditions inside the facility amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Lisa Harmon said she was told by a manager that she was not allowed back to the nursing home owned by Life Centers of America Inc in Littleton, Massachusetts after she spoke with Reuters about the facility’s botched response to Covid-19. However, she said she was never told why she was being barred from her job.

‘I don’t know how they think that they’re just blatantly doing this and getting away with it,’ said Harmon, a supervisor at the nursing home.

On the same day Harmon was banned, managers at the facility also fired nurse Colleen Lelievre, who also spoke with Reuters, although they said she was axed for making clerical errors involving narcotics.

Both Lelievre and Harmon described a desperately overworked staff. Harmon said she regularly worked 80 and 90-hour weeks and was forced, at times, to have physical or occupational therapy assistants fill in for nursing assistants.

Nurse barred from workplace after detailing Covid-19 nightmare in nursing home 1
Lisa Harmon said she often worked 80 and 90 hour weeks during the peak of the outbreak. (Picture: Ruters)

 

The facility reportedly saw 34 workers test positive for coronavirus by the end of May, although workers who became ill with the virus were not paid for their time away, Harmon and Lelievre said. Although Tim Killian, a spokesman for Life Care Centers of America Inc, said sick workers could use accrued paid time off.

Amy Lamontagne, the executive director at the facility, denied that she fired Lelievre for speaking with Reuters and said Harmon was not fired, but administrators want to speak with her for issues she raised in the article. Harmon said she has not received a paycheck since she was barred from the facility.

Lamontagne said the facility started investigating Lelievre two days before the article published and admitted that ‘The timing of it is poor.’

The Massachusetts Attorney General has reportedly opened an investigation into the facility’s response to the outbreak, the firing of Lelievre and the barring of Harmon.

‘We take allegations of workplace retaliation very seriously.’

US Representative Lori Traham, who represents Littleton, also hit out at the nursing home.

‘If the corporate leadership of Life Care Centers of America showed as much concern for the residents and workers at their facility in Littleton as they do for their public image and self-preservation, lives could have been saved,’ Trahan said.

‘Shameful behavior like whistleblower retaliation is often used to cover up wrongdoing.’

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