Nurses sue Pasadena psychiatric hospital

PASADENA, Calif. Four nurses filed the class action suit against Aurora Las Encinas Hospital in Pasadena. Former employees claim the private psychiatric facility was severely understaffed, which comprised patient care.

Former employees told Eyewitness News, they worked passed their shifts with no overtime pay to finish their work obligations. The plaintiffs also claim the hospital told workers not to spend time studying for mandatory exams, to avoid paying them overtime. Employees also say the answers were provided for the exams. In addition, the former workers allege unsanitary conditions for employees.

"I was a night shift supervisor -- and you have to remember this is 27 acres, 138 bed facility -- and if a toilet was plugged I had to run and find plungers, I had to get toilet paper. There was only one plunger sometimes for the whole hospital. We couldn't find another one," said Robin Motola, a plaintiff.

"It was very difficult to provide patient care and in good conscience do what you need to do, we were unable to take a break just because patient care would suffer," said Rudy Breilein, another plaintiff.

According to the Los Angeles Times, this is not the first time the hospital has come under scrutiny. Three adult patients died unexpectedly and a 14-year-old was raped there over a five month period last year.

The Times reports the hospital had been inspected at least six times in 2007 by government regulators, who reported a number of failures in patient care.

The plaintiffs in this latest lawsuit say their goal is to improve the quality of care at Las Encinas.

Eyewitness News tried to contact the hospital for comment, but the attorney representing the hospital would only say it is not their policy to comment on pending litigation.

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