MIAMI (WSVN) - A nurse is filing suit against a South Florida doctor, claiming he prevented her from wearing personal protective equipment during the coronavirus pandemic and intentionally infected her with COVID-19.
Venise Jean-Baptist said at the start of the pandemic in March, she was doing everything she could to make sure both she and her coworkers were healthy.
However, while she was at her Miami office, she said her boss was not taking the pandemic seriously, and because she kept hounding him about it, one day, when he got sick with the virus, he purposely spread it to her.
“We take an oath to protect,” she said. “We take an oath to care and provide the best care, and he didn’t care for me.”
She said that day was the worst day she had ever experienced in her 15 years as a nurse. Jean-Baptist was working at the Project Access Foundation’s Biscayne office, which was the location of the doctor’s practice.
“We didn’t have N95 masks,” Jean-Baptist said. “The masks that we did have, they wouldn’t allow us to wear for every single patient.”
She said she raised concerns over the lack of COVID-19 guidelines, but no one, including her boss, took the virus seriously. That’s when, she said, one day her boss came to work visibly ill after going to Winter Party on Miami Beach.
“He was coughing more, and you could tell he may be sick,” Jean-Baptist said.
While the two were walking in the hallway, she said she turned to him and recommended he receive a COVID-19 test.
That’s when, she claims, he stopped in his tracks, turned towards her and coughed.
“He just went ‘Ahhh,’ and he said, ‘Well, if I have it, now you have it, too. Now, leave me alone,'” Jean-Baptist said.
Jean-Baptiste said she could not believe what had just happened.
Then, her worst fear became a reality. She had contracted COVID-19 and spent more than a week in the hospital while her 2-year-old son Abel also fended off the virus.
“After I started to have symptoms, he started to develop a cough,” Jean-Baptist said. “I was crying everyday for him, asking what was going on because my fear was that he may end up hospitalized.”
Both have recovered from the virus, and the family has hired attorney John Leighton. He said the practice Jean-Baptist worked at did not want to risk having a confirmed case of COVID-19, which could have forced them to close.
“He didn’t want to shut down the practice for two weeks if anyone got sick,” he said. “It’s profits over people. ‘Don’t say anything. We’re not closing down. We don’t want to know, and we’re not going to protect people.'”
A representative with Project Access Foundation said in a statement, “The allegations set forth in the complaint are unfounded and will be aggressively defended. Project Access has at all times undertaken the steps necessary to comply with CDC and State guidelines, protect the public and its patients during the COVID-19 pandemic…”
“At that moment, I knew everything was about dollars,” Jean-Baptist said. “That’s what hurt me the most.”
The nurse and her attorney added they have every intention of taking the case to court. They believe Jean-Baptist should be rewarded damages for her health, her medical bills and her recovery.
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