State agency fines Sutter Health for not telling nurses they had been exposed to COVID


California’s Division of Occupational Safety and Health has issued an additional $141,750 in fines to Sutter Health—along with eight new citations—for not telling nurses in two units at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center in Berkeley, that they had been exposed to COVID. 

The latest fines come on the heels of $155,250 in fines and eight citations issued last week for serious COVID-related workplace safety violations at the Alta Bates Summit Medical Center Oakland campus.

This brings the total of Sutter’s fines to nearly $300,000 and the total citations to 16 in the last week.

A representative for Sutter Health was not available for immediate comment about the latest citations.

In terms of the ones issued last week, a spokesperson said Sutter has already appealed the citations.

"None of the findings are specific to the passing of our beloved colleague," Sutter Health said in a previous statement. "We continue to mourn her loss and are disappointed that her memory is being used for political gain."

The round of citations had the nurses' union very upset.

"Sutter Health continues to put patients, nurses and their families at risk by not complying with basic health and safety laws,"  Alta Bates Campus neonatal intensive care unit registered nurse Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto said in a statement. "When exposed to COVID-19, we need to take the necessary precautions to not spread the disease."   

Last week’s fines and citations at the Summit Campus followed the July 2020 death of Summit Campus registered nurse Janine Paiste-Ponder

Cal-OSHA found in the most recent citations that Sutter failed to inform nurses in the neonatal intensive care unit and a critical care unit that they had been exposed to COVID, either from a colleague or a patient.