GLENDALE, Calif. - A family is filing a wrongful death lawsuit against a Glendale nursing home facility after their loved one passed from COVID-19.
Ricardo Saldana, 77, passed from coronavirus on April 13 at the Glenhaven Healthcare Nursing Home, according to his daughter, Jackie Saldana. The last time Jackie saw her father was March 13.
"I miss everything about my dad, his sense of humor, and he was my best friend. He loved his family. He came to his country [from Mexico] to give us a better future. He loved working and he loved helping other people. He was a good man," said Jackie.
Jackie said the entire family is struggling with her father's passing.
"His death has hit me like 100 knives going into my heart. My family is devastated," said Jackie.
Jackie hired Attorney Scott Glovsky to file a wrongful death lawsuit alleging the nursing home was negligent in caring for patients and in the handling of the coronavirus outbreak there. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles Superior Court, and alleges an employee who had been exposed to the virus was allowed to continue working at the nursing home, and that the nurse's exposure was "hidden" from everyone.
"I was betrayed by the nursing home allowing a nurse to work there who was exposed without telling anyone. My dad should be here now today. They [Glenhaven] killed my dad. They could have prevented this and many others died, and many others got sick," said Jackie.
Glovsky said the staff was "prohibited" from wearing masks and gloves. The lawsuit alleges the facility even "locked up protective gear delivered by the local fire department."
"They [Glenhaven Healthcare] held a staff meeting in which they told the staff that the coronavirus was not a big deal, that it was like the flu and that nobody was gonna get sick," said Glovsky.
Glovsky also said Ricardo was put in harms way at the facility.
"Glenhaven moved a patient who had been exposed to the coronavirus into Ricardo Saldana's room without telling anybody and putting him jeopardy," said Glovsky.
According to Glovsky, Ricardo lived in the nursing home in Glendale for years, and he became one of "roughly ten patients," to pass away after contracting coronavirus.
As of Thursday, county Public Health Director, Barbara Ferrer, said 1,048 people in "institutional settings" passed from Covid-19, and the majority were at skilled nursing facilities.
"To everyone who has lost a loved one who lived at these facilities, our hearts are with you, and we are going to work as hard as we can with our partners and with the facilities to make sure they are as safe as possible for our residents and employees," said Ferrer.
The LA County Board of Supervisors are considering hiring an inspector general to oversee all nursing facilities in the county. As deaths continue to rise at the facilities, lawsuits like Saldana's could become more common.
"I think we'll see a lot of these suits because tragically a lot of people are dying in nursing homes," said Criminal Defense Attorney and Former Prosecutor, Steve Meister.
However, the lawsuits can be difficult to prove.
"There's so many questions about why, and what, and who and when and how, and that's gonna be the sort of path of exploration that all of these cases have to take," said Meister.
Jackie Saldana said she will fight for her father's case.
"He was a fighter until the end, and I'm just like my dad, I'm a fighter, and I'm gonna fight for him," said Saldana.
Glenhaven Healthcare released a statement regarding the lawsuit:
"Due to HIPAA and state privacy laws, we are absolutely prohibited from discussing any alleged current or former patient of our facility. In fact, we are unable to confirm whether any individual is or was a patient at our facility.
We can definitively say that Glenhaven Healthcare heroes put our patients first every day. Our nurses are trained on and follow applicable guidelines from the Department of Public Health and the CDC. We are extremely proud of our ongoing service to our patients and the community during a time of enormous challenges for healthcare providers in our country. "