Corvallis Clinic Sued, Did They Follow COVID Rules?

A lawsuit was filed on May 17 against the Corvallis Clinic, alleging the clinic required a physical therapist to treat patients in office during the lockdown because it would garner the business higher revenue.   

Seth Jagger Kaeser filed the lawsuit, accusing the clinic of wrongful termination and retaliation. Kaeser also claims that the clinic did not fully comply with state regulations put in place in response to the pandemic – including social distancing guidelines and mask mandates.   

The suit says that Kaeser noted that after Gov. Kate Brown issued executive orders requiring masks be worn and that people maintain a six foot social distance, the staff at Corvallis Clinic Physical Therapy department neither mandated masks be worn nor changed their work place floor plan to allow more distance between workers.   

Kaeser claims that in a staff meeting on April 1, 2020, Corvallis Clinic PT Supervisor, Gary Michael Gray, “stated that the Clinic was experiencing a financial hardship due to a massive drop-off in in-person patient visits” and that in response to that Gray told the PT staff that, in spite of the executive orders from the state to the contrary, “they needed to do everything they could do to assure their patients that in-person visits did not pose a significant risk for Covid-19 transmission (although that was not in fact true), and to encourage in-person physical therapy.”  

The suit goes on to say “Gray also told the physical therapists that, although they should use their professional judgment as to whether an in-person patient visit was necessary or appropriate under the circumstances, the continued employment of the physical therapists would also be directly tied to their success in bringing in patients for billable in-person visits.” 

 Kaeser took exception to what Gray said, as well as requesting that therapy spaces be reorganized for better social distancing. Kaeser’s objections were put into a “whistleblower” report saying the clinic was violating Executive Orders 20-10 and 20-12  

Gray said that if any therapists were uncomfortable with the directions he gave, they could go on temporary furlough, which Kaeser did. However, on May 21, 2020, the Corvallis Clinic sent Kaeser a letter terminating his employment for “expressions of opposition and concerns regarding Defendant’s Covid-19 policies that occurred during the… meeting that occurred on or about April 1, 2020.”  

The Advocate reached out to the Corvallis Clinic for comment. They had not responded as of press time.  

By Sally K Lehman