Lawsuit claims Filipino doctor tried to hide COVID-19 cases at LA facility

The family of 84-year old Army veteran Vincent Martin claimed that years of bad practices at the Hollywood Premier Healthcare Center, or HPHC, has led to one of Los Angeles County’s worst nursing facility coronavirus outbreaks.

Martin, who stayed in that facility, tested positive for COVID-19 the day after he died on April 5th.

A civil lawsuit filed by Martin’s family alleged elder abuse, negligence, wrongful death, and fraud against HPHC, it’s owner Ben Landa and its Filipino American Dr. Marcel Filart.

“It’s a situation that happened after many red flags over the last few years at Hollywood Premier, where there was a consistent track record of the facility being badly understaffed, and having infection control deficiencies,” said lawyer Anne Marie Murphy.

Murphy said that while the lawsuit blamed Dr. Filart for failing to provide proper care, it also claimed that he tried to hide COVID-19 cases at the facility, including failing to list Martin’s cause of death as coronavirus — further fueling the outbreak.

“The failure by the nursing home’s doctor, Dr. Filart, to list Mr. Martin’s death as a COVID 19 death, we allege that is part of the coverup that happened here. We think that issue is one going home at many nursing homes right now, there is under-reporting on the number of COVID infections.”

Murphy believes other patients — who have suffered due to the facility’s alleged negligence — may also eventually file lawsuits.

She added that majority of the staff are Filipino, and said they could look into filing cases as well over the working conditions they’ve had to endure.

The lawsuit claimed that at one point there were only two caregivers left to care for over 80 patients.

“There was at least 15 other seniors that died the family wants to say the victims are not just the elderly residents at Hollywood premier the victims are also the staff of the facility, they were in the facility the same time as the residents, coming down with covid19, again we know this is a seriously understaffed facility.”

Neither Filart, nor the facility, have responded to media requests for comments.

It’s not the first time Landa has faced legal actions. He also owns Sentosa, a group of nursing facilities, and was found to have violated anti-human trafficking laws when he brought Filipino nurses to work in the U.S.

On its website, HPHC assured patients and families that it is taking proper steps to limit the spread of COVID-19 as it adheres to guidelines from local and state health departments…Saying that it has been designated as a dedicated COVID-19 facility by LA County.

According to the Los Angeles public health department, there have been a total of 15 coronavirus deaths at HPHC.

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