Coronavirus outbreak: East Bay nursing home whistleblower escorted off property by police, loses job

ORINDA, Calif. (KGO) -- A worker at an East Bay nursing home that is suffering a deadly coronavirus outbreak says he was recently escorted off the property by police because he acted as a whistleblower by raising concerns about the facility.

However, the owner of the nursing home implies he was suspended for other reasons. But, the worker tells ABC7 the pressure began to build after he appeared in an I-Team report last month.

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When we first met Devaughn Greene, he didn't show his face or use his name, because he wanted to keep working with the elderly at Orinda Care Center.

But, he wanted to raise issues about the nursing home where dozens of patients and staff have been infected by a coronavirus, and at least four patients have died.

Devaughn Greene: "How could all the residents get infected when they're not moving? They're not leaving out of their rooms. They're not going nowhere."
Dan Noyes: "So, you're saying it was the employees who were spreading it."
Devaughn Greene: "Yeah, I believe it was the employees who were spreading it."

Greene complained about a shortage of personal protective equipment. In the days after that report, Greene now tells me a pressure campaign began by managers.

"Went around in the building, told everybody I did a news story against them a few weeks back, and it's been a hostile work environment ever since," explained Greene.

Tuesday, Greene says he talked to Orinda Care's manager about not getting paid for some hours he worked.

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"They put me in an office to talk to the payroll lady," says Greene. "The police came, escorted me out, said we're suspended."

I-Team reporter Dan Noyes arrived within the hour and flagged down the officer who had escorted Greene out. He wouldn't answer any questions.

When we interviewed Orinda Care owner Crystal Solorzano one month ago, she said, "We feel for every single patient, every single family member that's passed."

But on Thursday, she declined to go on camera.

Dan Noyes asked her by text, "Did you discipline (Devaughn Greene) for raising concerns about Orinda Care?"

She answered, "That is most certainly not the case." Her spokesman added, "While we can't discuss personnel matters here, we can say that our first concern is always for the safety of staff and patients."

Devaughn Green tells us he had no conflicts with staff or patients, that they "laughed and joked every day," and he provided TikTok video that he and some nurses recently made.

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"Whistleblower laws are there to protect whistleblowers because whistleblowers are there to protect us," said employment attorney Therese Cannata.

Cannata is a top San Francisco employment attorney. She can't pass judgment on Devaughn Green's case but she says he might be able to sue for lost wages, damages, emotional distress, and to restore his reputation.

"I think in these times COVID-19, we want employees to speak out, that's the purpose of these laws, is to encourage people to speak out."

Greene's girlfriend who was a nursing assistant at Orinda Care resigned from her job because of how he was treated.

Take a look at for a look at more stories by Dan Noyes and the ABC7 News I-Team.

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