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Disbelief as dad-dancing director of VA hospital holds 'coronavirus dance party' with 16 staffers not wearing masks or gloves in small room at Oregon facility where at least five have been infected

A director of a Veteran Affairs hospital has come under fire after he ignored social distancing and safety protocols to hold a 'coronavirus dance party' with a large gathering of staff at an Oregon medical facility.
Footage of the party obtained by Oregon Live shows director Keith Allen and at least 16 other hospital personnel dancing together in close proximity in the administrative officers of the Roseburg VA Health Care facility.
In a blatant disregard of social distancing guidelines, Allen, with a boom-box over his shoulder, is seen leading the awkward procession of 16 employees down a hallway, walking past clinical staff wearing scrubs on the way.
The uncoordinated cohort then walk through to a small office, gather in a cluster and dad dance side-by-side uncomfortably to Neil Diamond's 'Sweet Caroline' in a cringe-worthy three minute throwdown. 
None of the participants seen in the video were wearing face masks or gloves. 

Titled ‘director’s update’, the video was first posted to the VA regional intranet, which outraged a number of VA employees and later shocked a number of Oregon’s congressional delegation when the clip was leaked. 
Only after some three minutes is one member of staff heard calling out, ‘there are too many people in the room,’ finally bringing the cringe-worthy gathering to a close.
The Roseburg facility has already had at least five confirmed cases of COVID-19, including one staff member who had to be put on a ventilator in a Portland hospital. The facility also looks after dozens of vulnerable and elderly veterans, many of whom have pre-existing health conditions.
Nationwide, at least 20 VA employees have died, 14 of whom were in non-clinical roles, and 2000 have tested positive for the highly infectious disease. 
‘It’s just disgusting in my opinion,’ a VA staffer who requested anonymity told Oregon Live. ‘If it weren’t for the COVID-19 virus we would probably be laughing at this. But this is not okay. We have one of our own in the hospital fighting for his life.’
US Representative Peter DeFazio called Allen’s ‘totally inappropriate’, particularly considering the vulnerable contingent the facility cares for.
Despite the outrage, the hospital dismissed any concerns posed by their impromptu dance off, saying all members of staff taking part did so ‘voluntarily’ and said the facility was not required ‘to follow state protocols’, where protective equipment is concerned.



Instead, spokesperson Tim Parish said the hospital has a number of safeguards in place to protect staff, in accordance with guidelines set out by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).
Such measures were said to include ‘comprehensive COVID-19 screening process for staff, visitors, patients, and contractors.’
‘This video was made in an administrative, non-clinical area where PPE (personal protective equipment) is not required,’ he told The Oregonian. ‘All staff who participated were volunteers and had been properly screened, per CDC and VA guidelines.
‘VA realizes the importance of social distancing during this national emergency and will reiterate that to all employees involved.’

Parish declined to elaborate of what the facility’s screening protocol involves, though medical authorities have repeatedly stated that many infected with COVID-19 can be asymptomatic, showing no warning signs of the disease.
Furthermore, under CDC guidelines – of which the VA facility professes to follow – it’s recommended that the best way to reduce the spread of coronavirus is limiting face-to-face contact with others, standing at least six feet apart and avoiding large gatherings.
The CDC also outlined specific guidelines for hospitals, and said and measures taken must also comply with state and federal regulations.
In response, DeFazio said he understands the need to boost morale among employees, particularly during such unprecedented times, but said there are many better ways to achieve that while still following safety protocols.
DeFazio said he expects Allen and his staff to set a good example for veterans and other front-line workers, demanding ‘stronger leadership from him moving forward’.
Allen sent a private email to community leaders Monday that was leaked to The News-Review in Roseburg.
‘I would like to begin with an apology if this video offended anyone, it was not a dance party. It was meant to bring a small amount of stress relief and happiness to the Staff at the Roseburg VA Pathology and Laboratory Department,’ Allen wrote.


Allen said the group was dancing in support of lab staff, who he called ‘unsung heroes’, during National Laboratory Technician Week.
‘At no time have I forgotten any of the staff or Veterans that have become infected by this virus,’ Allen continued. ‘I hold each and every one of them in my thoughts and prayers.’
This isn’t the first time Allen was seen ignoring social distancing or safety protocols.
In a video posted to the hospital’s Facebook page on April 22, Allen is seen surrounded by staff, thanking members of the community for sponsoring a staff pizza party.
Again, none of those in the video were wearing protective equipment or physically distancing from one another.
Allen said in future he will work with staff to find safer ways to stay connected.

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