PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- Patients have a right to privacy when they go to the hospital, and so do the people that work there. However, something appears to have gone wrong at Phoenix Children's Hospital, which just got hit with a class action lawsuit.
The lawsuit claims that on October 15th, PCH sent an email to 368 employees that revealed the COVID-19 exemption vaccination status of hundreds of staff members.
Phoenix attorney Alexander Kolodin represents the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit. "Here we are dealing with an employer-employee context and not a doctor patient context, but it's a very similar kind of standard," said Kolodin.
Some parents, like Kaye Lawson, are upset about unvaccinated employees working around sick children. “Parents don’t need this extra burden. It’s enough to just keep your kid alive,” said Lawson.
Lawson has spent years at PCH. Her son began treatment for blood cancer when he was 2 years old in 2008, and was in and out of the hospital for years after; relapsing twice, needing 12-13 surgeries, and eventually a bone marrow transplant. “The thought of everything we went through, especially when our son was the most vulnerable when he had his transplant, the thought of anybody walking through that door who was a potential risk…” Lawson said.
Phoenix Children's sent an email to nearly 370 employees, identifying them as exempt from the hospital's COVID-19 vaccine mandate.
Kolodin believes the hospital's disclosure was a clear case of negligence and a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The lawsuit alleges that doctors, nurses and healthcare workers suffered emotional distress and humiliation.
"It's no secret that the COVID vaccination is extremely contentious, a personal and political issue in our society," said Kolodin. "People judge people who have religious objections to vaccinations, even though the law allows you to have such objections. People judge people even who have legitimate medical reasons for not getting vaccinated, and nowhere is judgement more acute than in a healthcare setting."
Lawson said even though her son isn't there as often as he used to be, it's scary not knowing who is unvaccinated at the hospital around the kids, especially transplant patients. “Those kids just have no immune system and they’re there for long periods of time. They’re the ones I think about most when I think about COVID,” Lawson said.
To Lawson, she said the mistake was eye opening to parents who want to feel their kids are as protected from COVID-19 as possible. “If you don’t think that kids safety should be first, you should not be working at Phoenix Children’s Hospital,” she said.
Phoenix Children's sent Arizona's Family this statement:
“As part of its COVID-19 vaccination program, Phoenix Children’s engaged in an extensive process to evaluate and provide qualified employees with medical and religious exemptions to its vaccination policy. For those employees who were granted accommodations, we developed appropriate workplace accommodations designed to protect all staff, visitors and our vulnerable patient population. In the process of communicating internal safety protocols related to such accommodations, the employee distribution list for one email message was inadvertently visible, instead of blind carbon copying the recipients. Since learning of our administrative error, we immediately informed affected employees of the error, extended our sincere apologies and explained that efforts had been taken to avoid similar mistakes in the future.”