Two doctors offices cited for coronavirus safety violations

RHODE ISLAND (WLNE) – The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation shut down two medical offices, citing noncompliance with the state’s coronavirus safety measures.

The North Providence Urgent Care and Primary Care office was ordered to close Monday morning, after failing a state inspection last Thursday.

“Without warning, we received a meeting by a constable basically forcing the closure of our facility,” said Dr. Anthony Farina, the office Medical Director.

His practice was cited with six different coronavirus safety violations.

During the state inspector’s surprise check-in on Thursday, he observed several employees improperly wearing face coverings.

He also cited the office for not keeping a log of when they cleaned, however the inspector said it did appear that environmental cleaning was taking place.

Farina was also cited for not having proper signage concerning social distancing and cloth face coverings, although he did have signs going over symptoms and travel history.

Furthermore, the inspector said he observed several patients enter the facility without being screened by staff.

“We do our screenings on our patients as they come into the office,” said Dr. Farina.”We’ve always cleaned the office. We’ve always observed safe precautions.”

He said he was blindsided by the order to close because he received no warning from the inspector.

“Why didn’t [the inspector] come back and say ‘Make sure your employees wear their masks. We’ll be in to recheck you.’ I could respect that,” said Farina. “We’re all on the same side.”

He had to ask patients who were already at the office on Monday morning to leave, and had to reschedule other’s appointments.

“At that time, patients were very upset, some patients felt like they were being abandoned,” said Farina. “As a result of this I lost two employees. They were very upset.”

Just over an hour after his practice was shut down, he underwent a re-inspection and no violations were found. He was allowed to reopen Monday afternoon.

“we’ve always tried to be there for our patients. To be rewarded as a first responder in this fashion is very, very disconcerting to me,” said Dr. Farina.

Dr. Daniel Hochberger’s office in Rumford was also shut down due to safety violations.

Hochberger received six citations.

The inspector observed employees not wearing face masks, not following proper screening protocols, and not properly cleaning. The inspector said the office appeared to not have been cleaned for some time.

Hochberger was also cited for not having a written plan in place for how to safely operate during the pandemic.

Furthermore, Hochberger was cited for not having proper signage and for not maintaining proper social distance.

Categories: Coronavirus, News, Regional News, Rhode Island