The family of a 77-year-old Ricardo Saldana, who got sick while living at the Glenhaven Healthcare nursing home in Glendale and died of COVID-19 five days after being admitted to a hospital in early April, has sued, alleging elder abuse, willful misconduct, negligence and wrongful death.

In the lawsuit, attorney Scott Glovsky said staff members at Glenhaven Healthcare, located on West Chevy Chase Drive in Glendale, were told to not wear face masks throughout March.

“They downplayed coronavirus and suggested it was like the flu,” Glovsky told KNX News Radio’s Craig Fiegener.

“It got so bad that a staff member contacted Ricardo’s daughter and had her contact the Health Department and report the situation,” said Glovsky, who has offices in Pasadena and Claremont.

“Due to HIPAA and state privacy laws, we are absolutely prohibited from discussing any alleged current or former patient of our facility. In fact, we are unable to confirm whether any individual is or was a patient at our facility. We can definitively say that Glenhaven Healthcare heroes put our patients first every day. Our nurses are trained on and follow applicable guidelines from the Department of Public Health and the CDC. We are extremely proud of our ongoing service to our patients and the community during a time of enormous challenges for health care providers in our country,’’ company  officials wrote in a statement issued to the media last week.

“This is a case about profits over people,” Glovsky wrote in the introduction to the lawsuit filed in LA County Superior Court on Thursday, May 21, against Glenhaven Healthcare, LLC by Saldana’s wife and three children.

Glenhaven Healthcare, Grovsky alleges, concealed the fact that a working staff member had been exposed to the coronavirus while prohibiting its staff members from wearing masks and gloves.

According to the lawsuit, it was not until April 1, after one of Saldana’s daughters filed a complaint with the LA County Department of Public Health, that facility managers encouraged nurses and other employees to wear masks.

“On a number of occasions, members of the nursing staff brought their own masks and bandanas to wear while working because of their concerns for the virus,” the lawsuit states.

One nurse named in the lawsuit allegedly told a manager that she was sick and needed to wear a mask to protect the patients and other employees, but was told COVID-19 was just a flu and that she was not allowed to wear a mask.

As the documents alleges, “Glenhaven transferred a resident who had shared a room with a COVID-19 positive resident to a two bedroom in late March. Prior to this move, Ricardo did not show any signs or symptoms. Once the other person was moved into the room with Ricardo, he began to develop a fever and other symptoms of the coronavirus. Ricardo’s condition continued to degrade and the staff attempted to treat the condition with medication which was known at the time to be contra-indicated for coronavirus. Ultimately, Ricardo died on April 13, 2020 from the coronavirus.”

“The complaint alleges they were told not to wear masks. They had a staff meeting, and they downplayed the coronavirus, saying it was like the flu, and no one was allowed to wear a mask. This is after it was known that one of their nurses was exposed,” said Glovsky.