A health care workers' union Thursday said at least 30 Bay Area workers and at least 50 caregivers statewide were sent home for quarantine after they came in contact with COVID-19 patients.
"Workers were allowed to come in contact for too many hours without wearing proper safety equipment, and as a result a large number of workers had to be sent home, putting us and our families at risk," said John Richardson, a pathology assistant at Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center in Riverside.
Sean Wherley, a spokesman for SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, said doctors and some other workers were not sent home in March because they are not in the union.
The hospitals involved include Kaiser Permanente in Roseville and Los Angeles, El Camino Health in Mountain View and Los Gatos and Sutter Santa Rosa Regional Hospital where 30 workers were quarantined, according to the union.
Union officials said sending exposed workers home is the right thing to do, but hospitals must collaborate with workers to prevent the spread of the virus among patients and workers.
The union said it wants regular communication between hospital leadership and employees and their representatives, clear protocols for early assessment, masking and isolation of patients, hospitals well supplied with personal protective equipment and responsible staffing.
In response, a Sutter Health spokesperson said, "The safety of our patients and employees is our number one priority. Isolation protocols are initiated after careful risk stratification in close coordination with the county department of health and in recognition of CDC guidelines and out of an abundance for caution for caregivers.
"As the circumstances around COVID-19 remain fluid we continue to update our protocols in accordance with the best practices established by federal, state and local authorities. Our standard work for infection control (isolating and masking ill patients, handwashing, room cleaning protocols) remains our best defense for protecting our staff and patients, the spokesperson said."