Health and Safety First!
Jul 22, 2020 —
Neil L. Pruitt, Jr. and other leaders across the University System of Georgia are showing callous disregard for health and safety and workers' rights in their plans to reopen campuses for in-person teaching in the fall. They are putting revenues over people, just as PruittHealth has done in their facilities across the Southeast. We urge Mr. Pruitt to prioritize the health and safety of those in his charge and we urge all BOR members to listen to the employees, students, and communities of the University System and ensure that the Board of Regents enacts the policies below.
● Masks will be provided on an ongoing basis for every campus community and enforcement of their use will not involve the campus police.
● No staff, student, or faculty member will be compelled to work on campus. No medical documentation will be required.
● Free, frequent and accurate COVID-19 testing will be available for the entire campus community.
Please call Mr. Pruitt to remind him that he *can* change course and do the right thing for the health and safety of our campuses: 1-888-701-5513.
Also, students, staff and faculty, send a letter to your university president stating that you are still holding them responsible for having a safe and healthy workplace: bit.ly/tellyourpresident
Dangerous Disregard for Safety
The United Campus Workers of Georgia, Communications Workers of America Local 3265 are profoundly concerned about the inadequate infrastructure and policies regarding a safe return to campus for university employees and students. Board of Regents member Neil L. Pruitt Jr. in particular has developed a track record of rampant disregard for issues concerning the health and safety of his employee’s and vulnerable people who his business was entrusted to care for.
Pruitt, Jr. is President of PruittHealth Corporation, a network of over 180 nursing homes, and assisted living centers that have been charged with over fifty violations by the Centers for Medicaid and Medicaid Service (CMS), Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), and the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). Between 2014 and 2019 alone PruittHealth was charged over $2 million in fines from these agencies.
We believe this alone illustrates a clear pattern of disregard for safety. But a concerningly high death rate in PruittHealth assisted living facilities in Georgia and a steady stream of legal battles over substandard quality of care and violations of employees’ right to organize over the years bolster our point and speak for themselves.
PruittHealth’s long-term care facilities in Georgia have a higher death rate from COVID-19 than the death rate for all residents of assisted living facilities across the state. Across 64 PruittHealth facilities 277 residents have died, or 5.1% of their total residents; Compare this with the still shockingly high death rate of 3.5% across all other facilities in the state (not including the Pruitt facilities). At thirteen PruittHealth facilities COVID-19 outbreaks resulted in the death of more than 10% of the residents.
Health and Safety
In February 2020 a South Carolina Circuit Civil Court settled an action brought by Mimi Dill who alleged Pruitt-Health Aiken, a PruittHealth subsidiary, caused the death of her mother, Gerda K. Louviere. Not only was PruittHealth found liable for the patient’s death, the judgement noted that understaffing and poor quality of care at the facility was pervasive: “Defendants entered into a continuing course of negligent conduct, creating, implementing, and enforcing dangerous operational budgets, practices, and policies at the Facility which deprived residents, including Ms. Louviere, of safe, adequate, and essential care and resources to meet their needs.”
PruittHealth also has a record of blatant disregard for workers’ rights. In 2015 they refused to bargain with the union at their Atlanta-based nursing home employees at PruittHealth Virginia Park LLC after the Retail Wholesale, and Department Store Union was legally recognized as the bargaining agent.
 Searches conducted for all Pruitt-owned agencies, July 21, 2020, OSHA: https://www.osha.gov/pls/imis/establishment.html; CMS, https://www.medicare.gov/nursinghomecompare/search.html?; NLRB, https://www.nlrb.gov/search
 Analysis of Georgia Department of Community Health Data, July, 2020. https://dch.georgia.gov/announcement/2020-07-20/long-term-care-facility-covid-19-report
 Mimi DILL, et al., v. PRUITTHEALTH-AIKEN, LLC, et al. No. 2020CP0200511. February 27, 2020. Court of Common Pleas of South Carolina. Second Judicial Circuit. Aiken County.
 Pruitt-Health Virginia Park, LLC, Petitioner, V. National Labor Relations Board, Respondent. No 16-1350. May 1, 2018. United States Court of Appeals, DC.
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