SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) — State and local officials have fined two Kaiser Permanente Bay Area hospitals more than $184,000 in recent months for failing to report when employees were infected with COVID-19, officials said.
Cal/OSHA, the state agency that oversees workplace safety, fined the health care giant's San Jose facility more than $85,000 in November after it kept quiet when one of its employees was hospitalized for a week with COVID-19 early in the pandemic, the Mercury News reported.
Santa Clara County officials fined that same hospital $43,000 this month for failing to report a deadly coronavirus outbreak that may have been caused by an inflatable holiday costume worn by an unknowingly infected staffer on Christmas Day. The number of cases linked to that outbreak has reached 60 employees and one staffer has died.
Santa Clara County officials said they learned of the Christmas Day outbreak in January after the Oakland-based hospital chain issued a press statement. They issued $1,000 fines for each of the initial 43 cases.. Kaiser is responsible for the timely reporting of cases, the county said.
Cal/OSHA also fined Kaiser's hospital in Antioch $56,000 in December after the hospital failed to immediately report that two employees were hospitalized with coronavirus in May and July, among other violations to maintain a safe work environment in the midst of the pandemic.
In a statement Monday, the hospital network emphasized that the state's $85,000 penalty levied against the San Jose hospital stemmed from claims made last spring when the virus was new and regulations were constantly evolving. It said it is appealing the fine.
"Importantly, they have absolutely nothing to do with what may have occurred at Kaiser Permanente San Jose on Dec. 25," Kaiser said.
Cal/OSHA said Monday it is also investigating "subsequent illnesses and complaints" at Kaiser's San Jose hospital.