Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Monday, June 30, 2014

Testimony reveals cover-up

Court transcripts show nurses
failed to report patient’s injury

Family were not told for three weeks
 that he had suffered a serious burn 
from a cold pack filled with hot water,
 itself a violation of hospital procedure

By David Baker
Posted June 30, 2014
1,242 words

Two nurses at Albany Memorial Hospital admitted under oath that they waited more than a week to file incident reports that are required within 24 hours, and almost three weeks to tell the family of a patient that he had received a serious burn from an cold pack that, in violation of a hospital protocol, had been filled with hot water and placed under him while he was heavily medicated.

The testimony is recorded in transcripts of depositions taken in a lawsuit brought by Leonard and Rita Guyette of Troy.  The claim was filed in January 2007.  In December of that year an amended claim was filed, adding a demand for putitive damages.

The case is listed on the court system’s web site as being “settled” on April 24, 2008 – four days before a trial was scheduled to begin. There is no indication in public records of how much was paid to settle the claim.

One of the nurses was Donna M. Karpinski. She was questioned by Thomas Conway of Conway & Kirby, a law firm in Latham NY that was representing the Guyettes. The lawsuit alleged that staff at first told Guyette’s family that he had a bedsore, not a serious burn.

Q.  Did you talk to the family at all?
A.  No.
Q.  Did you call the family?
A   No, I did not.
Q.  Did you advise the family that there had been an incident in connection with their relative?
A.  No, I did not.
Q.  Why not?
A.  I didn’t think it was going to became what it became.
Q.  Did there come a point in time where it did become something?
A.  Yeah.
Q.  When was that, ma’am?
A.  I don’t know.  Because I did not have him as a patient too often after the incident.
Q.  Now, as I understand it, you never reported it to you supervisor; is that correct?
A. Probably not.
Q.  And did anyone discuss that with you?
A.  My supervisor, yes.
Q.  And who would that have been/
A.  Marianne Ruberto
Q.  Now, when you say you didn’t think it was going to amount to much so you didn’t report it to you supervisor, tell me, what do you mean by that?
A.  Well, I just didn’t think it was going to turn into what it turned into
Q.  You knew he had been burned, right?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Did you know what the procedure was with regard to reporting to your supervisor a burn incident?
A.  You know, this is the first incident I ever had working so – and I –
Q.  Is your answer no, ma’am?
A.  An incident to me is was when somebody fell out of bed.  That was an incident.
Q.  And if somebody fell out of bed, would you have reported it to your supervisor?
A.  Uh-huh.
Q.  But if a patient gets burned, you didn’t know you were required to report it to your supervisor?
A.  I did not.

Later in the deposition this exchanged occurred.

Q.  One of the (hospital’s) procedures is that you never apply heat to a patient without a doctor’s order. You knew that had been violated, right?
A.  Right.
Q.  Another procedure was that you never use the cold pack to apply hot water or heat to a patient; is that correct?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Any other procedures that you recall that were violated?
A.  I don’t recall that it’s a procedure, but I know I probably should have notified the supervisor and the family.
Q.  And you did neither, right?
A.  Right.

Also deposed was Marianne Ruberto, a registered nurse and a nurse manager.

Q.  What is the procedure when an event such as a burn occurs?  What is the procedure that the staff is supposed to follow as far as reporting it?
A.  They’re supposed to fill out an incident sheet.
Q.  Are they supposed to fill it out immediately when it happens?
A.  Yes.  They have a 24-hour period.
Q.  They’re certainly not supposed to wait as much as ten or 11 days; is that correct?
A.  Correct.
Q.  And in fact, 24 hours is the rule?
A.  They are supposed to do it immediately, but the deadline to have it completed and made out is 24 hours.
Q.  And in this instance that wasn’t done, is that correct?
A.  Correct.
Q.  Do you know why it wasn’t done?
A.  I can’t answer for the nurse.

A few minutes later there is this exchange:

Q.  Did you know that your staff was telling the family that he had a bedsore?
A.  Correct.
Q.  And  did you talk to your staff about that?
A.  When I knew.
Q. And can you tell me who in your staff was telling the family of this patient that he had a bedsore as opposed to a burn?
A.  Not without looking at records of who took care of the patient and then questioning them about what they said.
Q.  Well, we have records of the care of the patient, if you want to take a minute and look at them to jog your memory.  But you became aware that they were, in fact, misinforming the family, correct?
A. Correct.
Q.  And the people that misinformed the family and told the family that he had a bedsore as opposed to a having been burned, were they disciplined?
A.  No, not that I recall.

Also deposed and questioned by an attorney for the hospital was Linda Gutta, a daughter of Leonard Guyette. The attorney would want to know what Gutta would say at trial.  He asked Gutta about two telephone numbers written on a document that had been examined.

 Gutta:  That’s the number for Westchester burn unit,  Dr. Buckley. I couldn’t remember her name.  There is it. That’s who I called.
Q.  Your also have a number there for Mr. Dasher?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Did you ever speak to Mr. Dasher?
A.  Yes, I did.
Q.  On how many occasions?
A.  I believe twice.
Q.  Do you know who Mr. Dasher is?
A.  Yes.
Q.  Who is he?
A.  Well, he’s the head of that Northeast Group that owns Memorial Hospital.
Q.  When was the first of the occasions  you spoke  with him?
A.  I’m not sure, but it was after my father was burned.
Q.  What was the sum and substance of this conversation?
A.  I called to tell him what happened to my father.
Q. He took your phone call?
A.  Yeah.
Q.  Did he say anything to you?
A. He told me he would look into it and have it taken care of and get back to me.
Q. What specifically did you tell Mr. Dasher at that time?
A.  I told him that we had just found out that my father was burned and they kept it from us for 21 days and we didn’t have the opportunity to send him to the burn unit and I wanted something done.  I wanted answers and people were hiding from us, just not helping us.

Leonard Guyette died in January 2013, 18 months after he was found on the floor by his bed at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy, where he was recovering from hip surgery.  A story posted here on June 13 said his widow has filed a lawsuit alleging that the hospital, Seton Health Systems and St. Peter’s Health Partners are liable for injuries that led to his death.
Comment:  A costly silence


A costly silence


Transcripts reveal
an absence of truth

Posted June 30, 2014
637 words

Documents in yet another lawsuit show – these ones in clear detail – a stunning lack of competency and integrity in nursing staff and management at a hospital run by Northeast Health, Inc. (which is now a part of St. Peter’s Health Partners).  As is described in the story above, two nurses testified under oath that they didn’t know an incident in which a patient received a serious injury had to be reported to management, and that the patient’s family had to be informed.

They didn’t do either.  What staff members did do was lie to the family, telling them for three weeks that Leonard Guyette had a bedsore, not a huge burn from a cold pack that had been filled with hot water, an act which itself – applying heat to a patient without a physician’s direct order – was also a violation of the hospital’s procedures.

One of the consequences of this coverup was that the family was denied the opportunity to immediately transfer Mr. Guyette to a burn unit, where specialized treatment might have lessened the severity of his injury.

The result was a claim for both compensation and for punitive damages, the second claim being added after the coverup was revealed during pretrial discovery.

The management of these hospitals learns nothing and forgets nothing. Consider the following instances of alleged harm, all from cases reported on this blog:

* An attending physician's orders and the organization’s own written protocols are ignored prior to the death of a patient with diabetes; seven months later exactly the same thing precedes the death of another diabetic. Both patients had dangerously low blood glucose levels recorded in their charts.

 * A doctor’s orders and hospital protocols are ignored before a serious injury and permanent disfigurement is inflicted on a patient following surgery to repair a leg fracture.

 * A patient dies after a doctor and then a nurse separately disregard a requirement that they flush out blood thinner from a medication dispenser.

 * A patient chokes to death after staff ignore a nothing-by-mouth order.

And now, once again, despite overwhelming evidence of its liability, Northeast Health fought the Guyette claim, generating fees for its attorneys and then, days before trial, had its insurer pay out far more than would have been needed to settle immediately.  All of which, through higher medial bills that reflect higher malpractice insurance premiums, are ultimately paid by the public.

The records in this case fill a large cardboard box in the Rensselaer County clerk’s office. Medical records, motions and transcripts of the depositions are all there, none of which would be available to the public if the case had been settled early.

But in 2007 no one was publishing details of these lawsuits. The area’s newspapers, replete every day with ads for Northeast Health (and now St. Peter’s Health Partners), simply ignore suits against advertisers, no matter how serious the allegations or how large the eventual settlement.  Over the past 14 years the management of Northeast Health/St. Peter’s Health Partners have fought dozens of lawsuits, safe in the knowledge that the organization's reputation is protected by a corupted media that has totally abandoned its stated mission of gathering and disseminating information that is in the public interest.

One of the members of St. Peter’s Health Partners’ board – and a major fund-raiser for the recent multi-million dollar addition to St. Peter’s Hospital – is George R. Hearst, the publisher of the area’s largest newspaper, the Albany Times Union. The managements of the area’s two other daily newspapers are in lockstep with Hearst; they also ignore lawsuits alleging medical harm.

These entities – and the law firms that litigate the claims – benefit from this conspiracy of silence.  Meanwhile, patients continue to be harmed by negligence and avoidable errors.

The public is the loser.  And it’s the public that is paying for it all.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Hostile workplace alleged

Woman claims harassment at Troy
hospital forced her to quit her job

Lawsuit is among dozens against big advertisers
 that the newspapers have ignored - while similar
 claims against non-advertisers get stories

By David Baker
Posted June 24, 2014
599 words

A woman who worked in the emergency department at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y. has filed a lawsuit alleging that she was forced out of her job after she complained that a male employee was sexual harassing her, at one point showing her a video of himself having sex with another woman.

Patricia Cocozzo of Saratoga County alleges violations of New York’s human rights law, including discrimination because of her substantial hearing loss and her age.  She also alleges a hostile work environment, constructive dismissal, and retaliation for complaining about the alleged harassment.

According to legal papers, soon after Cocozzo, who is 58, began working at Samaritan Hospital she was taunted and ridiculed by younger co-workers because of her hearing impairment.

“Plaintiff’s immediate supervisor and team leader at Samaritan Hospital, Mary Komdat, served to create a hostile work environment along with others when she belittled Ms. Cocozzo because of her hearing disability,” a document filed in the Rensselaer County clerk’s office says.

Cocozzo alleges that during the spring of 2011 a male employee, Sean Garavelli, began sexual harassing her.

“Upon information and belief, Garavelli had sexual relations with another employee of defendant and openly discussed this incident at the work place and referred to this female in derogatory terms,” a legal paper says.

Cocozzo then complained to two supervisors, Judy Waldecki and Cindy Ciabotte, but allegedly nothing was done.

“The response was to put Ms. Cocozzo on a probation to see if she can adapt to her hostile work environment,” a legal paper says.

“Moreover, they told Ms. Komdat that Ms. Cocozzo had made complaints to them, which led to Ms. Komdat‘s increased ridicule and hostility towards Ms. Cocozzo.”

The suit says that Garavelli’s harassment of Cocozzo  continued. “... which included but was not limited to making offensive comments, rubbing Ms. Cocozzo’s shoulders, grabbing his groin area and overtly suggesting with his body movements that he and Plaintiff have sex.  These actions occurred over the course of several months in 2011 and 2012.”

The papers say Cocozzo was insulted and humiliated by the harassment.

“Garavelli’s sexual advances worsened over the course of 2011, and on or about March 2012, when Garavelli showed Plaintiff videos of him having sex with another woman.”

According to the suit, Cocozzo complained to both the defendant’s employee psychologist and its the human resource director.  “Plaintiff also tried to see defendants in early 2012, however she was unable to get an appointment.”

Cocozzo alleges that when she tried to transfer to a different department she was told by Ciabotte that she, Ciabotte, would make sure Cocozzo would not get another job.

“Soon thereafter, on or about March 2012, when Berger, Waldecki and Ciabotte failed to take any remedial action but instead, they forced Plaintiff to transfer to Albany Memorial when she would take a pay-cut.”

Cocozzo continued to work at Samaritan on weekends, where co-workers “… made fun of her hearing and were condescending and ridiculing to her in front of co-workers and patients,” the suit says.

In August 2012 Cocozzo resigned.

The suit seeks orders declaring that the alleged conduct is a violation of the state’s human rights law; recovery of lost past and future earnings; and compensation for pain, suffering, emotional distress and  humiliation, as well as medical expenses and attorneys’ fees.

The claim, which names Northeast Health and St. Peter’s Health Partners, was filed in state Supreme Court in Rensselaer County on May 5 by the Syracuse law firm Levine & Blit.  The case has not been assigned to a judge.  Documents that would show who is representing the defendant have not yet been filed.

A seach of newspaper archives and on Google produced no indication that the case has been the subject of a story.

Harassment also alleged in lawsuit against
 birthing unit in Samaritan Hospital. 
 Read that story HERE

Follow @answersforlisa on Twitter to learn when new stories are posted

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

A duty abandoned


Publisher’s conflict 
leaves readers uninformed

By David Baker
Posted June 18, 2014
668 words

George Randolph Hearst, III is a man with two masters.

One is readers of the newspaper, the Albany, N.Y. Times Union, of which he is publisher.

The other is St. Peter’s Heath Partners, Inc., which, following a recent merger, operates four hospitals, several nursing homes, rehabilitation facilities and clinics in the Albany area in upstate New York, and where Hearst has a seat on the board.

Hearst can’t serve both of them.  It’s a huge conflict of interest.

Staff in medical facilities make mistakes. People get hurt. Some of them die.  Lawsuits are filed. A lot of them.

But readers of Hearst’s newspaper would never know it.  For 14 years the paper has been silent on dozens of cases, some alleging wrongful death or catastrophic injuries, many of them quietly settled on the eve of trial after years of litigation.

But that doesn’t mean there’s no mention of the medical organization in the Times Union. Just the opposite. Every day the paper runs ads, both in print and online, promoting the medical group as competent and caring.

Those ads bring in a significant stream of revenue.  Meanwhile, its readers are kept in the dark about dozens of claims alleging negligence and malpractice.

The are only two things these hospital executives care about: money and their public image.  Patient safety is, at best, a distance third.  So they spend an enormous amount of money buying media silence, a silence which in turn allows them to fight every claim of patient harm – even when they know they are liable – and put victims or their families through the second anguish of a legal battle, without any damage to their paid-for public image.

A publisher who hadn’t abandoned his paper’s core function of informing the public would publish stories about some of these claims. The hospitals would then have only one way to avoid the damage to their image:  Do every possible to stop the harm and, when it does occur, admit it and offer compensation.

But Hearst chooses instead to place profit above the public good.  Lawsuits against medical providers aren’t mentioned, no matter how unusual the allegations.

Publishing details of at least some of these lawsuits would benefit the public in several ways.

First, it would be an incentive for medical providers to put an emphasis on patient safety, rather than, as now, on routinely denying responsibility. Without it, the providers and their lawyers – who earn fees for defending cases, not for settling them – can and do fight claims right up to the eve of trial, out of public view. Thanks to the media, the providers’ false image of being competent and caring remains intact.

Second, victims of medical errors or – if the error was fatal, their families – would be spared the stress of a long and punishing legal battle. Even when providers eventually settle, it is often with no acknowledgment of wrongdoing, so the closure that can come only with a full explanation of what went wrong and some indication that steps will be taken to avoid a repeat is denied.

Finally, the silence of the media has a financial impact.  The costs of defending claims are paid by insurance carriers.  These are passed on to the providers in higher premiums, which are then added to hospitals’ and doctors’ bills. Ultimately the public pays to defend these claims – as well as the much higher amount often needed to settle a claim after years of litigation.

But George Randolph Hearst III is unconcerned about any of this.  Without even a pretense of journalist independence or integrity, his has his newspaper endlessly promote an organization it should be holding accountable.  He sits on the company's governing board. He chairs a fundraising effort for a new building at one of its hospitals, an organization from which his newspaper receives a steady stream of revenue that it would not get if it was carrying out its core function of informing the public.

The TU’s editorial writers frequently lecture about the corrupting influence of money and special interests. They don’t have far to look for a perfect example.


Doctor quoted in ad is named in lawsuit

The formal opening of the Hearst Pavilion at St. Peter’s Hospital on June 10 was marked with a 16-page brochure on glossy paper, delivered as an insert in the Times Union. Filled with photographs and glowing descriptions of the hospital, it quotes, on page 8, St. Peter’s chief of cardiac and vascular services, Niloo Edwards.

Visitors to this site might recognize that name; an exclusive story posted here on March 28 said that Edwards is a defendant in an active lawsuit filed by John Carp, who developed a life-threatening bedsore following bypass surgery at the hospital.

A paragraph in that story said: “Carp’s attending physician at St. Peter’s Hospital, Niloo Edwards, allegedly failed to recognize that Carp was at high risk of developing an ulcer or that an ulcer had appeared before Carp was discharged.”

According to the suit, Carp was later transferred to the Sunnyview Rehabilitation Center in Niskayuna – now also operated by St. Peter’s Health Partners – where another doctor also allegedly failed to properly treat the ulcer.

 –David Baker


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Friday, June 13, 2014

Allergic reaction cited

Medication caused 
kidney damage, suit says

By David Baker
Posted June 13, 2014
214 words

A woman who claims she suffered permanent damage to her kidneys after an allergic reaction to a medication is suing two doctors and the healthcare organizations that employed them.

According to the complaint, in April 2012, Susan J. Birch of Saratoga County went to an urgent care facility operated by Seton Health Systems in Clifton Park, where she was prescribed the antibiotic Zithromax by the defendant physician Axel Herrmannsdoerfer.

Herrmannsdoerfer, the suit says, knew or should have known that Birch was allergic to the medication

The following day, Birch called the facility and described her symptoms to the other defendant physician, Antonio Gregorian.  Gregorian then changed Birch’s prescription to Amoxicillin but allegedly did not advise Birch to go to the facility or any other emergency facility for an evaluation of her condition.

The suit says that as a result of the alleged negligence, “…the plaintiff, Susan J. Birch, was caused to suffer severe and permanent personal injuries, pain, suffering, and disability, all of which required medical attention, and she was further caused to sustain serious economic damages by reason of loss of employment and income, all of which is expected to continue throughout the future.”

Also named as defendants are Seton Health Systems Inc. and St. Peter’s Health Partners.

Birch is represented by the Albany law firm Powers & Santola. Representing the defendants is Thorn, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni.

Troy hospital sued

Suit alleges injuries
 from post-op fall

By David Baker
Posted June 13, 2014
115 words

The widow of a man who fell from his bed in St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy while recovering from hip surgery is suing the hospital and its two parent companies.

According to the suit, Leonard Guyette, a known fall risk, died in January 2014, 18 months after he was found on the floor in the hospital.

The suit names St. Mary’s, Seton Health Systems, St. Peter’s Health Partners and St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates, PC.

The suit was filed by the Latham law firm Conway & Kirby.

This case has not yet been assigned to a judge. But an earlier malpractice lawsuit, filed by the same attorneys for the Guyettes against Albany Memorial Hospital in 2007,  is listed as settled prior to trial in April 2008.

Details of that case and any further information on the current suit will be posted here shortly.

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Puntive damages sought

Nursing home death 
brings $2 million claim

By David Baker
Posted  June 11, 2014
214 words

The widow of a man who died from injuries he allegedly received while a patient in an East Greenbush nursing home has filed a lawsuit claiming $2 million in putitive damages.

The suit was filed by the estate of Kenneth Jenkins, who died in March 2013. It names as defendants Evergreen Commons, St. Peter’s Hospital and the Eddy Visiting Nurse Association.

According to legal papers, Jenkins was in Evergreen Commons five times between November 2012 and February 2013. The documents do not state the specific cause of Jenkins’ death. But a 20-page complaint cites numerous state laws and federal regulations, some of which relate to the prevention of falls, the prevention and treatment of bed sores and the prevention and treatment of urinary tract infections.
The suit claims wrongful death, medical malpractice and negligence.

The complaint was signed by Sean Doolan of Doolan Platt & Setarch of Windham NY, who has filed numerous claims against nursing homes. This one contains several errors that can result from an over-reliance on word-processor copy and paste functions.  It states that St. Peter’s Hospital is “…located in the City and State of New York, County of Rensselaer.”

St. Peter’s Hospital is in Albany.

Representing the defendants are Phelan, Phelan & Danek,  and Maguire, Cardona, both of Albany.

Permanent injury alleged

Delayed biospy result
 prompts lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted  June 11, 2014
189 words

A woman who alleges that the failure of a doctor to notify her of a positive test result caused her to be left a with permanent injury has filed a lawsuit against the doctor and a laboratory.

According to the suit, Christine Mills underwent a biopsy of tissue from her right knee at St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy. The tissue was sent first to the Seton Health System Laboratory for testing and then, at the request of defendant Dr. Imrana M. Ali, to Albany Medical Center for a second opinion.

The second examination indicated a sarcoma.  However, Ali allegedly failed to inform either Mills or the doctor who performed the biopsy of the positive result.

The suit says the condition was not treated until four months after the tissue was obtained and that as a result “…Christine Mills was caused to sustain severe, catastrophic and irreparable physical and mental injuries and damages, as well as conscious physical and mental pain and suffering.”

The suit also names as defendants St. Mary’s Hospital and St. Peter’s Health Partners. It was filed in April 2014 by the Albany law firm Powers & Santola.

Missed infection

Undiagnosed sepsis brings
 wrongful-death lawsuit

By David Baker
Posted June 11, 2014
179 words

A physician and a nurse practitioner who allegedly failed to diagnose sepsis caused by a perforated intestine are named in a lawsuit filed by the widower of a Rensselaer County woman who died in St. Peter’s Hospital in 2012.

According to the suit, after Donna Giddings underwent abdominal surgery at St. Peter’s and was discharged, she began suffering nausea, lower abdominal pain and lethargy. She was brought back to St. Peter’s Hospital where, during another surgery it was discovered that she had a perforation in the lower intestine, colon and rectum, and that content of the rectum had moved in the abdominal area causing sepsis.

Giddings’ condition continued to deteriorate and five days later she died of the infection and multi-system organ failure, according to papers filed in the case.

The suit names Timothy McElrath, M.D., nurse practitioner Lisa Aremao, Woman’s Cancer Care Associates and St. Peter’s Hospital. It was filed by the law firm Anderson, Moschetti & Taffany of Latham NY.

The defendants are represented by Thorn, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni, and Thuillez, Ford, Gold, Butler & Monroe.

Monday, June 02, 2014

Burdett Care Center faces suit

Maternity nurse says she was
fired for reporting violations

Complaints arose following hospital merger during a
“culture war” between nurses at new birthing center

By David Baker
Posted Monday June 2, 2014
810 words

A registered nurse who was working in the maternity ward at Catholic-based St. Mary’s Hospital in Troy when the hospital joined with the non-religious Samaritan Hospital under a new governing board has filed a lawsuit in which she claims she was harassed, bullied and then fired for complaining that management of a new birthing unit in Samaritan Hospital had failed to follow St. Mary’s birthing practices, in violation of a state Department of Health order that was a condition of the merger.

Debra Griner’s claim names the Burdett Care Center – which is a maternity unit – and St. Peter’s Health Partners, the new body under which St. Mary’s, Samaritan and two other Capital District hospitals merged in 2011.

Griner is seeking lost earnings, compensation for emotional and physical injuries, as well punitive damages for alleged violations of several state regulations.  She also demands her job back with full benefits and seniority.

The suit says the birthing unit in St. Mary’s Hospital relied on midwives and a natural birth philosophy, while Samaritan Hospital used medical intervention and medications.  At the time of the merger, management at Northeast Health Inc. – which operates Samaritan Hospital – addressed concerns that St. Mary’s Catholic-based maternity philosophy would be abandoned by saying that a new separate unit would be opened within Samaritan Hospital.  The Burdett Care Center has its own web page that gives its address as 2215 Burdett Avenue – the same as Samaritan Hospital – but says nothing about Samaritan or St. Peter’s Health Partners.

“This case seeks to hold defendants responsible for their blatant violation of New York Labor law Section 741, a law that provides broad protection to health care workers who report actions or policies that constitute improper or inadequate care,” a document in the lawsuit says.

The suit says that as a registered nurse, Griner had an obligation to report unsafe or improper practices.

“However, when plaintiff spoke up, she was repeatedly bullied, harassed and retaliated against because she raised legitimate concerns about improper or inadequate patient care.”

The lawsuit says one of Griner’s concerns was the high number of newborn babies in the new unit that needed resuscitation.

“In plaintiff’s 26 years of nursing she hardly never witnessed a newborn resuscitation and in 8 years at St. Mary’s she never had to perform compression on a newborn,” the suit says.  “Yet, in approximately one year, she performed 5 such procedures on a newborn at Burdett.”

According to the suit, Griner brought her concern to a supervisor, questioning whether the different approach to birthing may have been a factor in the need for resuscitations.

“Plaintiff’s supervisor refused to investigate the concern.  Instead, her supervisor subjected plaintiff to intense scrutiny and oversight and continued to issue unwarranted discipline in an effort to either force plaintiff to quit or to set the stage for plaintiff’s dismissal.”

The suit says Griner was labeled “a ring leader” in a culture war between former St. Mary’s nurses and former Samaritan nurses.

According to the suit, on one occasion, an angry Samaritan technician banged a crib with a baby in it into a another crib.  Just before that, the same technician violently banged a crash cart into a wall.

Griner also complained about staffing levels at the birthing center.

“The problem with staffing levels was a chronic problem and was exacerbated by several nurses that routinely called in sick at the last minute,” the suit says. “The response to plaintiff’s complaints about nurse staffing was that plaintiff and others had to pick up the slack.’

On one occasion Griner complained that during a very busy time, another former Samaritan RN had spent a long time looking at Facebook. 

“In response to this specific complaint, plaintiff was met with a contentious supervisor who vigorously defended the Samaritan nurse (without actually investigating the concerns).”

Shortly after raising that concern, the suit says Griner was the subject of several anonymous complaints about her work, and received several threatening messages from other Samaritan nurses.

Griner claims that on one occasion a Samaritan nurse allowed a patient with a confirmed case of swine flu to roam around the maternity ward without a mask.  That compliant also was ignored.  According to the suit, Griner also reported that a patient had been upset after a Samaritan technician, who had no authority to advise any patient, had given her false medical information.

Griner was terminated in December 2012. The suit says the Burdett Care Center failed to follow its own discipline and termination policy.

Griner’s lawsuit was filed in state Supreme Court, Rensselaer County by Ryan Finn of Hacker Murphy in Latham, N.Y.  A New York City law firm, Pecker & Abramson, is representing the defendants and has denied Griner’s allegations.  The case has not yet been assigned to a judge.

A search of the area’s newspaper archives and on Google produced no mention of the lawsuit.

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