Family has questions after VA employee dies from coronavirus
SHREVEPORT, La. (KSLA) - A grieving family is asking if their loved one, who worked at the Overton Brooks VA Medical Center in Shreveport, was properly equipped on the job — after dying from coronavirus.
That longtime employee, 64-year-old Roy Coleman, reportedly told his family he had asked several times for Personal Protective Equipment, commonly referred to as PPE, but did not get it.
They said he was scared of catching the coronavirus but went to work despite that fear.
By the middle of March they say Coleman’s health began to decline rapidly, passing away on Monday, April 6.
Coleman's children and grandchildren spoke collectively through a video conference call from a porch in Shreveport, with one heard saying, "He shouldn't have to ask for protection, you know. He went to work every day. He was on time, faithfully; never missed a beat."
We also spoke by video conference call with Joe Mansour on Friday. He is a workers compensation specialist for the American Federation of Government Employees, a union better known to many as AFGE.
They also filed a complaint with OSHA, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, claiming the VA created an unsafe working environment by not having enough PPE for staff.
When asked directly if it is not safe for VA workers right now at Overton Brooks, Mansour had a strong reaction.
“I can tell you if I worked at the VA hospital at this time, I’d be taking sick leave because I don’t believe it’s safe,” Mansour said.
"Have you looked at the numbers, how many VA employees have been, contracted the COVID."
Mansour added that calling in sick would be something he might consider assuming he would not be given the appropriate PPE.
But by late Friday afternoon, April 10, Shannon Arledge, the Public Affairs Officer at Overton Brooks, responded to the claims and insisted all employees have the appropriate PPE and adhere to all the safety precautions spelled out by the CDC, for patients, employees and visitors.
Here is part of the VA’s response:
“We send our deepest condolences to the employee’s family and friends. due to privacy concerns, we will not provide additional information.”
As for the worker’s compensation claim, Mansour added that it must first be sent to the VA, which then sends it off to the U.S. Department of Labor, with a response from that agency within 60-to-90 days.
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