California Hospital Staff Concerned about Facility's C. difficile Risk

Between 2012 and 2014, 19 Pomona Valley patients died from C. difficile infection. One environmental services employee quoted in the LA Times said that she had not received any training on infection control in her 12 years of employment there.

Workers at a Los Angeles County hospital say their fears about patients being at risk for Clostridium difficile (C. difficile) infection have fallen on the deaf ears of their management, according to a recent report published in the Los Angeles Times.

One of the Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center environmental services employees, Leticia Duarte, told the LA Times that she picks up bone, blood and flesh which is sometimes on the walls or ceilings using mops. She added that she and her team are not trained to handle that. The Times said her comments were included in a file that detailed conditions inside the hospital for the Service Employees International Union; the employees at the hospital have been trying to form a union.

Another environmental services employee quoted in the report said that she had not received any training on infection control — she has worked at the hospital for 12 years.

Inside that report, data showed that 97 Pomona Valley patients were infected with C. difficile in 2015, a number worse than the national average. Between 2012 and 2014, 19 Pomona Valley patients died from C. difficile infection, the LA Times determined from state records.

The Times wrote that employees said managers had ignored complaints about their lack of cleanup training and how to stop the spread of C. difficile infections. However, managers denied those accusations to the Times.

“We have documentation of their training,” Darlene Scafiddi, vice president of nursing and patient care services told the Times, adding that the hospital meets or exceeds all federal regulations and they are committed to promoting the health of the people living in the region.

Scafiddi added that the patients who died had other factors which contributed to their deaths, but could not elaborate due to privacy laws. She also said that employees are trained in infection control at a minimum of once per year.

Duarte has worked at the hospital for nine years, and told the Times that she has seen infectious materials spread around and between hospital rooms.

“They often irrigate to cool down the bones they’re cutting,” she said to the Times. “That dirty water ends up on the floor, where doctors and other operating room staff step in it. They track it around to other operating rooms because they don’t change their booties.”

Other workers backed up these claims, including certified nursing assistant Socorro Valencia, a nine year employee of the hospital.

“I would say that as often as two or three times per month, I’m working with a patient and not covered with protective equipment before I’m told the patient is an isolation case,” Valencia told the Times.

The article, published in mid-November, underscores an emotion that may not be rare in American hospitals. MD Magazine recently explored which hospitals had the best and worst numbers for C. difficile infection based on a Consumer Reports article.

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