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Former Diamond Hill nurse says she was fired for speaking out about coronavirus concerns

Jill Konopka
Created: May 07, 2020 08:59 PM

A Troy woman is blowing the whistle on her ex-employer: Diamond Hill Nursing and Rehabilitation Center.

"I believe I was terminated because I voiced concerns over the handling of the COVID," said 35-year-old Stephanie Gilmore. "The exposure, unnecessary exposure to the staff and other residents."

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There are 14 coronavirus-related deaths at Diamond Hill.

"It's time for someone to stand up for the voiceless," said Gilmore. "We have family members who can't see their loved ones, and loved ones who passed away & they don't know how why and they have no answers and I'm here to shed some light."

The RN was fired from her nurse manager position April 15, less than 48 hours after returning from an ordered quarantine due to potential exposure to a resident who tested positive.

"And I was not able to let these exposed staff know they they were possibly exposed to COVID, which enhanced staff being infected," said Gilmore. "Her exact words to me were I don't want to cause a panic."

Gilmore said she did anyway and then called county health officials. In addition to voicing her concerns out loud, Gilmore also e-mailed two of Diamond Hill's owners.

"I followed the chain of command. I made complaints and things got worse," said Gilmore.

Gilmore said she has no regrets and has since complained to the state's division of human rights.

"We are mandated reporters and I did my job. I have a duty to protect the residents and my staff under my care," said Gilmore.

Diamond Hill released a statement:

“We like so many, are deeply saddened by the more than 2,300 skilled Nursing Facility hat have been affected by the New Corona Virus. It has ripped through cruise ships and battle ships, hospitals, social gatherings, cities, towns and houses of worship with virility and impunity. Well before our first case we took dozen of measures to prepare and try to prevent the infiltration of the virus including limiting access and screening of all employees on a daily basis. The virus proved to be stealth and entered our community likely through someone who appeared perfectly healthy. Its progress has been typical, which is devastating.

On April 28, 2020 we had a deficiency free infectious disease control survey and continue to work tirelessly to secure our share of the PPE Supply to help protect residents and staff. We feel very fortunate that we have been able to acquire full PPE for all facility staff and will keep working to secure more as it becomes available. We work hand in hand with the Department of Health and follow CDC guidance as it changes to take into account new discoveries concerning transmission, the disease, and testing options. Training and retraining, donning and doffing, and isolation is our way of life.

While our focus is and always will always be on caring for our residents as best we know how, we must mention those heroes among us who at great personal sacrifice work full and sometime much more to provide professional, competent care to our wonderful residents in these unprecedented times. We must also thank the Department of Health, our medical director, and the infectious disease experts who have provided assistance competently and to the best of their abilities. Families, with few exceptions, have also been wonderful, understanding and have found new ways to send their love to their loved ones, whether through a video chat, text, email, letter etc. We are thankful for good wishes and understand those whose concerns about the pandemic express themselves unkindly. 

Due to labor laws, we cannot comment about any employee who was terminated from the facility for cause or otherwise. We acknowledge that different people deal with stress and strain much differently than others and wish everyone to find purpose, fulfillment and to stay as safe as God will permit.”

Letters were also sent to Gov. Andrew Cuomo and New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. One letter highlighting recommended changes for Diamond Hill, and the other urging Gov. Cuomo to withdrawal his advisory on hospital charges and nursing home admissions.

The New York State Attorney's office said they had not received any complaints.

The New York State Department of Health did not get back to NewsChannel 13.

Rensselaer County has had no response.


Copyright 2020 - WNYT-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company

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