A Sinai-Grace emergency room nurse said he was fired Wednesday because hospital officials believe he leaked a photo to CNN that appeared to show bodies stored in vacant hospital rooms during the coronavirus outbreak.
In a video posted to his Facebook page early Wednesday, Sal Hadwan showed a copy of the termination letter and filmed himself as he said he was cleaning out his hospital locker.
Hadwan said in the Facebook video that he did not take the photos and did not give them to CNN. He said he told hospital officials that during an interview. He said the photos were shared among more than 40 people on staff.
Hadwan has been vocal about what he said were the hospital’s inadequate staffing levels amid the pandemic, including in a Detroit News story on April 9 about working conditions. He was part of a sit-in to demand more support to treat a surge of COVID-19 patients in early April. He had worked for the hospital for three years.
“They decided to terminate me because they think I leaked the photos to CNN,” Hadwan said in the video. “I honestly loved working here. I loved working with all my coworkers.
“I feel like I just got retaliated against. It’s because I stood up and spoke up for what is right … They fired me during the pandemic from a place I loved working at.”
A spokesman for the Detroit Medical Center said the hospital had gotten complaints that employees took “inappropriate photos” of deceased patients and shared them with other employees.
“We conducted a comprehensive investigation and took appropriate action based on employee admissions of violations of our patients’ right to privacy,” Jason Barczy, a spokesman for the DMC. “We have an unwavering commitment and obligation to respect the privacy of our patients and to treat them with dignity and respect. We will not tolerate actions to the contrary.”
Barczy would not confirm Hadwan’s termination but said “appropriate action” was taken.
On Monday, state and federal officials cleared the hospital of alleged violations of infection prevention and nurse staffing requirements following an investigation.
It was not clear Monday which state agency, if any, had conducted an investigation into body storage at the northwest Detroit hospital. Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said last month the hospital also was being investigated for reports that bodies had been stored in vacant hospital rooms.
Multiple calls to Hadwan seeking comment were not returned.
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