Traveling workers allege unsafe conditions at Eugene nursing home

The facility said in a statement that it strongly denies the allegations.

Posted: Oct 8, 2021 11:44 AM
Updated: Oct 8, 2021 7:32 PM

EUGENE, Ore. -- Two traveling health care workers are speaking out after their time at South Hills Rehabilitation Center, alleging neglect, unsafe working conditions and more, which the facility strongly denies.

The nursing home was not following COVID-19 protocols and was hostile at times, according to the two women. They also said several patients died because of neglect from staff.

"They were allowing COVID-19 patients to roam the halls and carry out their daily routine," said Jane, a travel nurse. "I understand that's important for them, but at the same time, the patients have COVID-19 and we do not."


Jane also said she would frequently be the only nurse to handle multiple patients at one time.

"I think my very first day I had three to four COVID-19 patients, which is very doable," Jane said. "But my next shift, I had 11 patients. That's a lot."

Travel certified nursing assistant Mary said oftentimes staff members at the facility were not wearing masks.

"They were bringing patients down to the COVID-19 unit unmasked," Mary said. "They were literally bringing them into the elevator, to the other side of the parking lot, without a mask on, without a gown on. When you work in a COVID-19 unit, you're supposed to assign a number of people and they're supposed to stay in that unit."

Recently, South Hills had a COVID-19 outbreak from an unvaccinated worker. 

"It spread like wildfire because of how the place is run," Mary said. "I can say from the 12 patients I had, none of them received visitors. If those patients don't have another outside source, their direct contact is coming from us."

Jane and Mary also made allegations about patient neglect. They said proper care was not given, especially to patients on hospice care, sometimes even leading to their deaths.

"Even if they were on hospice, they did not have to pass the way that they did," Jane said. "They suffered and it makes me angry. Granted some of them were on comfort care and hospice. But I honestly believe majority of those people would be here today if it wasn't for COVID-19."

South Hills responded to these allegations.

"South Hills Rehabilitation denies these allegations made by former, temporary staff. Patient care and safety is always our number one priority. The facility follows all CDC, state and county guidelines related to infection control and COVID-19. The facility no longer has a COVID unit – it was wound down in mid-September. Unfortunately, COVID-19 has been a reality since March 2020 and most nursing homes, including South Hills, know how to operate a COVID-19 unit. Representatives from the state survey agency as well as OHA inspected the COVID unit and had no concerns.

"The unit was appropriately staffed at all times. Staffing fluctuates and is based upon patient needs and acuity. Thankfully, many of the patients on the COVID unit were asymptomatic. Should a nurse be assigned to 11 residents due to patient needs and acuity, there are multiple CNAs also assigned to those residents as well as therapists and other caregivers. Staff do not cycle on and off a COVID unit – a COVID unit has dedicated staff. All residents and staff are properly masked during transport to a COVID unit. Unfortunately, two COVID positive residents did pass away and both were on hospice prior to contracting COVID. As we know, COVID-19 disproportionately affects the frail and elderly. Yes, COVID positive residents on a COVID unit are able to move around the unit and are not confined to their rooms – this is regulatory guideline and is important to the resident’s well-being. The staff have ample and adequate PPE and are trained how to properly use it and protect themselves.

"South Hills is very thankful for its dedicated staff who selflessly care for COVID-19 patients and have helped most of them to fully recover. Our staff take excellent care of all of our residents, whether on or off a COVID unit, and we are so grateful for all of their hard work and sacrifice.”

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