North Providence doctor accused of exposing patients, staff to COVID-19 now facing $136K+ in OSHA fines

Northwest

NORTH PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ A North Providence doctor accused of knowingly exposing his patients and staff to COVID-19 is facing thousands of dollars in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Dr. Anthony Farina’s license was suspended earlier this year following an investigation into dozens of complaints filed against him by former patients and staff members. His license was reinstated a month later after the R.I. Department of Health determined he was no longer “an immediate danger to the public.”

OSHA cited Farina failing to not only protect his patients and staff from contracting COVID-19, but also for willingly exposing them to the virus by returning to work after testing positive himself.

Farina is now facing $136,532 in fines for not fully implementing safeguards, which include cleaning and disinfecting shared spaces, mandating face masks and social distancing, and screening all employees and patients upon entry to the practices.

“This employer placed workers and others at risk of contracting the coronavirus,” OSHA Area Director Robert Sestito said. “Employers have a responsibility to isolate workers and themselves if they show symptoms of the virus.”

“Protecting employees and patients by implementing timely and effective safeguards and controls to minimize exposure is critical to mitigating the spread of the virus,” he continued.

Farina has until June 24 to either comply with or contest OSHA’s findings.

Michael Lepizzera, Farina’s attorney, called the proposed penalty “outrageously excessive” and “shocks the conscience of any reasonable person.”

“Dr. Farina is an excellent physician who has well served this community for close to three decades,” Lepizzera said. “He did not and would never jeopardize either the safety of the patients who he has meticulously cared for during his long standing time as a doctor nor would he place his employees in harm’s way.”

Lepizzera also said Farina “vehemently denies” OSHA’s findings and plans to challenge the report.

“I am confident that the proposed OSHA penalty will not survive either administrative or judicial scrutiny,” he added.

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