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Suit accuses Kaiser of blackballing

Nursing assistant says she hasn't been able to get work since aiding a patient-dumping probe.

January 13, 2007|Tami Abdollah | Times Staff Writer

A former employee has sued Kaiser Permanente, claiming that the HMO "blackballed" her for participating in a criminal investigation into the alleged dumping of a homeless woman on skid row.

Irene Hernandez, 50, of Downey said Kaiser's hospital in Bellflower quit employing her as a registry nursing assistant after she cooperated with the Los Angeles city attorney's office investigation into alleged patient-dumping by the hospital giant.

In the suit, filed Thursday, Hernandez says she discharged a homeless woman March 20 from Kaiser Bellflower, placing her in a taxi. She said she later learned that the cab dropped the woman off on skid row, leaving her to wander aimlessly.

In the suit Hernandez says she told Kaiser lawyers and later the city attorney's office that hospital policy was to discharge patients in their street clothes by wheelchair to a taxi. But when neither the patient's pants nor a wheelchair could be found, Hernandez says, she was told to walk the patient out dressed in two hospital gowns.

Since her interview with the city attorney, she has not been placed at Kaiser Bellflower or any other location despite calling in weekly to report for work, the suit alleges.

Kaiser Permanente spokesman Jim Anderson said his employer learned of the complaint late Friday and had not yet had the opportunity to examine it.

"We will need time to review it before we have anything to say," Anderson said.

Nursefinders, the registry that placed Hernandez, could not be reached for comment.

"When she put the woman in the taxi, she didn't know she was going to be dumped at skid row," said Hernandez's attorney, Gloria Allred. "And since she told the truth to the city attorney's office ... she doesn't have a job."

tami.abdollah@latimes.com

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