OSHA Proposes $161K Fine for Home Healthcare Company After Nurse’s Tragic Death

OSHA Proposes $161K Fine for Home Healthcare Company After Nurse’s Tragic Death

A home healthcare company that failed to protect a visiting nurse who was slain during a meeting with a convicted rapist at a Connecticut halfway house should face a $161,000 fine, federal workplace safety officials said Wednesday.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has announced the findings of its inquiry into Elara Caring and Joyce Grayson, a 63-year-old mother of six and nurse for 36 years, who died on October 28. The Dallas, Texas-based company, which offers home care to over 60,000 patients in 17 states, said it disagrees with OSHA’s conclusions and intends to appeal them.

OSHA found that the company “exposed home healthcare employees to workplace violence from patients who exhibited aggressive behavior and were known to pose a risk to others,” according to a statement.

“Elara Caring failed its legal duty to protect employees from workplace injury by not having effective measures in place to protect employees against a known hazard, and it cost a worker her life,” Charles McGreevy, an OSHA regional director in Hartford, Connecticut, said in a statement.

According to OSHA, the corporation could have decreased the risk of workplace violence by providing its healthcare workers with extensive background information on patients, offering them panic alert buttons, and implementing procedures for utilizing safety escorts with certain patients.

The government stated that Elara Caring must establish and implement necessary precautions, including a thorough workplace violence prevention program. OSHA cited Elara and its two subsidiaries, Jordan Health Services and New England Home Care. Elara Caring stated in an email to The Associated Press that “the citation that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued to the company is unwarranted, and we intend to contest it vigorously.”

The corporation stated that Connecticut officials determined Michael Reese, the convicted rapist accused of killing Grayson, was not a threat to the community. Reese, 39, was on probation and residing in a halfway house in Willimantic after spending over 14 years in prison for slashing and sexually assaulting a woman in New Haven in 2006.

“Post-release, state authorities were responsible for monitoring and managing the patient’s activities,” according to the business. “The death of Joyce Grayson was a tragedy, and we continue to grieve with the family.”

The firm previously stated that it had precautions in place to protect employees and was assessing them in light of Grayson’s death.

The state court system, which handles probation, says it does not comment on potential lawsuits.

An informal meeting between OSHA and Elara Caring is scheduled for Thursday, according to an OSHA representative. The employer has until May 17 to reply to the OSHA citation, which includes either complying with or disputing the agency’s directions.

Grayson’s death prompted a push for stronger protections for home healthcare workers in Connecticut and throughout the country. Connecticut lawmakers are now debating legislation to increase healthcare worker safety.

Grayson had a medication appointment at Reese’s halfway house on the morning of her death. After she missed successive appointments, her daughter contacted the police to request a well-being check.

Grayson’s body was discovered strangled in the basement of the halfway house, according to police and the medical examiner. Reese’s arrest warrant also stated that she suffered blunt-force injuries to her head, torso, and extremities. Reese is charged with murder, attempted first-degree sexual assault, and other offenses in connection with Grayson’s death. He has not filed a plea, and his public defender has not responded to inquiries seeking comment, including an email sent on Wednesday.

Kelly Reardon, a lawyer for Grayson’s family, stated that the family hopes the OSHA findings will lead to safety changes in the home healthcare business.

“OSHA has recognized what the Grayson family has known since Joyce was murdered on October 28, 2023 — that Elara Caring willfully placed her in harm’s way by repeatedly ignoring employees complaints about aggressive and violent patients they were required to treat,” Reardon wrote in an email to the Associated Press.

OSHA also cited Elara Caring for a less significant claimed violation — failing to provide work-related injury and sickness reports to OSHA within the necessary four business hours — and proposed an extra $2,300 punishment.

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