‘Unnecessary and harsh’: Doctor’s offices deemed non-compliant dispute COVID-19 violations

Providence

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) ─ Two doctor’s offices were forced to temporarily shut down by the Rhode Island Department of Health last week after inspectors determined neither were in compliance with the state’s COVID-19 regulations.

The Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation listed the medical offices of Dr. Daniel Hochberger and Dr. Anthony Farina as non-compliant after failing recent inspections.

Hochberger tells Eyewitness News that the infractions that were flagged by the inspectors did not warrant the response his office received from the state.

“Did I have some minor things in my office? Yes. Enough to close me down? Absolutely not,” Hochberger said.

The immediate compliance order issued for Hochberger’s practice, which is located in East Providence, lists mask-wearing as one of the violations.

Hochberger claims his employees were eating lunch during the inspection and, “you are not required to wear masks when there are no patients in the offices and you’re eating lunch.”

The order also states that Hochberger’s office was not allowing enough space for patients to social distance in the waiting room and did not have a written plan readily available.

Hochberger disputes this claim, adding that his practice has had a written plan since March, “which is also signed by everyone in the office, it would have noted that we were fully in compliance.”

He said his office has made all of the necessary corrections listed in the immediate compliance order, but was still forced to close the next day without the opportunity for a second inspection.

Farina, whose practice is in North Providence, called the forced closure “unnecessary and harsh … with little consideration for the effect on our patients.”

He also said the violations listed in the immediate compliance order are “simply inaccurate.”

“We all are on the same side in this fight,” he said in a statement. “Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic we have cooperated and will continue to cooperate with the state.”

Joseph Wendelken, a spokesperson for the R.I. Department of Health, previously told Eyewitness News that the immediate compliance orders are, “a reminder that the message we are sharing every day … is applicable to everyone.”

Hochberger tells Eyewitness News he plans on filing a lawsuit against the R.I. Department of Health for libel and slander since he now has to repair the reputation of his practice.

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Providence

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