Management at Montefiore failed to comply with state, federal and local laws regarding the health and safety of employees, according to two identical class-action grievances filed by the union representing more than 500 workers at Montefiore and Menorah Park.
The grievances were filed after falsified COVID-19 testing results and an outbreak of COVID-19 in one unit at Montefiore that led to the termination of Montefiore’s administrator, nursing director and assistant director in late October.
The two long-term care facilities share a campus in Beachwood and affiliated as of July 1. Menorah Park has 355 beds and Montefiore has 233 beds.
Samara Knight, executive vice president of Service Employees International 1199, District 99, told the Cleveland Jewish News Nov. 6 she is concerned about the treatment of workers at Montefiore and Menorah Park. She said employees were not specifically told of the falsified testing, the terminations or of any follow-up action.
Knight emailed the grievances to Jamie Herbst, vice president of human resources at Menorah Park, on Nov. 6.
“Management has unjustly, failed to comply with all applicable state, federal and local laws and regulations regarding the health and safety of employees, in accordance with the CBA (collective bargaining agreement); failed to properly report positive COVID test results and/or falsified documentation,” according to the grievances.
The grievances seek, “to be made whole in every way, including, but not limited to, following all applicable state, federal, and local laws and regulations regarding the health and safety of employees and maintaining compliance.”
Menorah Park issued a statement on the grievances in a Nov. 10 email to the CJN.
“Menorah Park takes extremely seriously the health and safety of its residents, clients and employees,” reads the statement from Beth Silver, director of public relations and marketing. “To that end we have implemented and enforced policies and procedures designed to comply with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) and state-directed guidelines regarding COVID-19. We fully respect the union’s role as part of this process. Together, we have a common goal of working in the best interest of our employees and the people we serve.”
In a separate Nov. 6 email to Herbst, Knight said the union received calls from “concerned members regarding health and safety and COVID test/testing at both facilities Montefiore and Menorah Park.”
In that email, she requested answers within seven days to several questions pertaining to working conditions and COVID-19 testing. The final question reads, “What process has the employer implemented to ensure false readings or falsifying numbers doesn’t happen in the future?”
Jim Newbrough, CEO of Menorah Park in Beachwood, wrote a memorandum to residents and families Oct. 29 explaining the situation and apologizing for worry and concern.
In it, he said the assistant nursing director and nursing director submitted tests regarding COVID-19 and that Montefiore’s administrator “failed to oversee the situation appropriately.”
Newbrough praised an employee for reporting the problems to her manager and human resources.
Ari Hyman confirmed to the CJN Oct. 29 that he was no longer working as Montefiore’s administrator.
The CJN has not been able to identify the names of the nurses as of Nov. 11.
The problems were discovered Oct. 21
and Menorah Park called in partners, including the Cuyahoga County Board of Health Oct. 22 to retest residents.
In an Oct. 30 email to the CJN, Newbrough did not specify a date of the terminations, saying only that they took place after Menorah Park’s investigation concluded.
Melanie Amato, press secretary in the office of public affairs at the Ohio Department of Health, said the organization also conducted an investigation at the facility, with state workers leaving the facility Oct. 31. A public report will be available 30 days following that date, according to Amato.
Holly Fisher, chief legal counsel for the Ohio Nursing Board, would not confirm investigations, per state law, but said the outcome of its investigations of nurses is public.
Neither Menorah Park nor Montefiore reported any new cases among residents to the Ohio Department of Health as of its Nov. 4 weekly listing on the state website. No updates were provided on Veterans Day. Among staff, there was one new case of COVID-19 reported at Menorah Park and nine at Montefiore.
This is a developing story.