Mark Mustard alleges West Virginia University Medicine affiliate hospital violated patient safety and age discrimination laws
PRINCETON, W.Va. — Mark Mustard, a former director of cardiopulmonary and therapy services at West Virginia University (WVU) Medicine affiliate Princeton Community Hospital, has filed a lawsuit claiming that the health care institution fired him after he reported concerns over the quality of care that COVID-19 and other respiratory patients received. In the filing, attorneys from Bailess Law Firm, representing Mustard, allege that West Virginia United Health System and hospital supervisor Albert Boland violated the West Virginia Patient Safety Act and West Virginia Human Rights Act when they terminated Mustard’s employment less than one month after he submitted multiple patient safety complaints to the hospital’s executive team, its chief nursing officer, and Boland.
Mustard worked at Princeton Community Hospital for more than four years, during which he was asked to manage the respiratory services department. He provided direct care and treatments for patients ranging from the use of ventilators and aerosol treatments to the administration of arterial blood gas tests and breathing treatments. The suit states that Mustard began to vocalize staffing concerns in 2020 during the coronavirus pandemic when the number of patients who required respiratory care dramatically increased and filled the hospital’s intensive care unit to capacity.
According to the lawsuit, Mustard’s complaints regarding patient safety and care because of understaffing issues continued through September 2021. A report to the hospital’s executive team stated the night shift respiratory staff was exhausted and overworked, so additional personnel were needed to meet the needs of patients.
The suit states that Mustard spoke again at the end of August 2021 to Boland and the hospital’s chief nursing officer to report that patients were not receiving the necessary amount of aerosol treatments because the department still did not have enough staff to administer all the treatments that were ordered. According to the suit, two additional meetings with the executive staff were called in early September. In meetings, further details were discussed about the critical state of the hospital’s staffing and equipment issues but ended without resolution.
The lawsuit alleges that Mustard was abruptly fired on Sept. 23, 2021, shortly after a second meeting with executive staff where he voiced concerns with patient care. The suit states he was not given a reason for the termination, which came less than one month after he received an exceptional performance review that gave him an incentive bonus of more than $6,000.