National Whistleblower Day

A Massachusetts nursing home fired one nurse and banned another from the premises after they spoke to Reuters in early June about the home’s horrific working conditions and understaffing.

Colleen Lelierve, a nurse at the Life Care Center of Nashoba Valley (“Life Care”)  in Littleton, MA, spoke to Reuters about the extreme understaffing at the nursing home, making it especially harmful for residents during the coronavirus pandemic. Lelierve told Reuters that administrators hid the number of COVID-19 cases in the facility from the staff. Life Care later fired Lelierve accusing  her of “making clerical errors involving narcotics for residents.” Lelierve claims Life Care did not notify her about these alleged transgressions until two days after the original Reuters article.

Lisa Harmon, also interviewed by Reuters, stated that when workers became ill or quit entirely, the remaining staff “regularly worked 80- to 90-hour weeks” and “were unable to keep residents from wandering into hallways and other patients’ rooms, potentially spreading infection.” She also observed misconduct regarding the handling of COVID-19 and said that Life Care did not test employees for the virus until mid-May. Both Lelierve and Harmon told Reuters that in late March and early April, the Massachusetts National Guard came to the nursing home and administered tests. They claim that for the visit, “administrators brought in corporate staff and workers from a nearby Life Care facility to give the appearance of a fully staffed home.” The extra workers then left “within a week.” On the day that the Reuters article was published, “a manager barred Harmon from the building the same day, without explaining why.”

Harmon said of the firing and retaliation, “I don’t know how they think that they’re just blatantly doing this and getting away with it.” Life Care Center’s executive director Amy Lamontagne told Reuters she “denied that she fired Lelierve for talking to Reuters” and chalks it up as bad timing. Lamontagne also claims that Harmon had never raised issues of understaffing before the Reuters article. Harmon said that she had raised such concerns many times.