A Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility staff member who contracted COVID-19 has filed a lawsuit alleging the company failed to provide a safe working environment during the pandemic.
Lolita Ingram filed the lawsuit against the Briarcliff Skilled Nursing Facility and Stonegate Senior Living LLC, Briarcliff’s parent company, in the 123rd District Court on Wednesday. She is seeking more than $1 million in relief from a jury trial. Ingram is represented by Casey Q. Carlile of the Carlile Law Firm in Marshall.
Briarcliff’s facility was one of two Carthage nursing homes to see a large number of COVID-19 cases, with 72 cases and 12 deaths reported among residents and staff, according to statistics that have been released by Panola County Judge LeeAnn Jones. The facility was celebrating becoming “COVID free” last week and planned a memorial and celebration of life on Friday.
The Watchman has asked Briarcliff and Stonegate for comment on the lawsuit, but the facility had not yet returned any comments as of Friday morning.
Ingram is a certified medication aide and says while working at Briarcliff earlier this year, she contracted COVID-19 from caring for patients at the facility and was subsequently hospitalized. Briarcliff, the lawsuit says, failed to provide proper protective equipment to its employees.
The lawsuit says a Briarcliff resident was allowed to leave the facility for a birthday party and return without quarantining after Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order designed to stop the spread of COVID-19 by prohibiting visitors.
Ingram was “required to perform her job of caring for patients without proper PPE despite the serious risk of harm to herself, patients and other employees,” according to the lawsuit. The lawsuit says Ingram came into contact with a resident who tested positive for COVID-19 during March, contracted the virus and was subsequently hospitalized in April.
Ingram is alleging that Briarcliff is negligent because it breached its duty to provide a safe working environment by failing to provide proper PPE; failing to develop and implement policies and procedures regarding how they would respond to COVID-19; failing to train staff on how to properly wear PPE; failing to tell staff that residents under their care were positive for COVID-19; and failing to notify appropriate authorities of the COVID-19 outbreak, among other things.
The lawsuit says Briarcliff breached Occupational Safety and Health Administration standards and violated regulations of the Texas Health and Human Services Commission and Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.
“Briarcliff was consciously aware of an extreme degree of risk to its patient and healthcare workers such as Plaintiff and those similarly situated, but it nevertheless proceeded in failing to act to protect them in complete disregard for the rights, safety and welfare of Plaintiff and those similarly situated,” the lawsuit said.