A 28-year-old Los Angeles man who worked for the county remotely as a COVID tracer died in his home and was not discovered for five days because his employers failed to check in on him or call any of his emergency contact numbers.
As a contract worker with Healthcare Staffing Professionals, Dominic Green worked from home helping the Los Angeles Department of Public Health keep track of COVID-19 cases.
Last winter, at the close of his shift, he emailed work to say, “Good afternoon everyone, my shift has ended.”
Five days later, after checking their son’s cellphone plan and realizing Green hadn’t made any calls, his parents, Joseph and Jeannine, were worried.
Joseph called a number that had texted Dominic twice. It turned out to be that of Lisa Smith, a country public health department supervisor, who said she hadn’t heard from Green since Wednesday and was concerned, though as Smith said, “Technically, he doesn’t work for us.”
Joseph and Jeannine asked a friend of the family to do a wellness check at Green’s Koreatown apartment.
Their son was found lying on his bed, badly decomposed.
He lived alone and died suddenly: A work from home tragedy – Los Angeles Times https://t.co/4kfq5sbqR1
— Wise_Diva (@wise_diva) July 13, 2022
According to the Los Angeles Times, it was later revealed that Green died from a heart condition called cardiomyopathy, which can lead to sudden death.
On the advice of the coroner’s office and at the gentle insistence of the funeral director, the family was forced to forgo the traditional Seventh-day Adventists open-casket funeral due to the advanced state of decay. Instead, a life-sized cardboard cutout of Green stood next to his closed casket.
When trying to collect his belongings from his apartment, his parents, who had flown in from Michigan, had to wait for a team outfitted with respirators and hazmat suits to finish cleaning the apartment.
Devastated, the family wondered why no one contacted them sooner, as both parents and Dominic’s brother, Adriel, were listed as Green’s emergency contacts. Had they been called, the family says, Dominic’s body would have been discovered sooner.
It wasn’t that Green wasn’t missed from work. He had received texts and emails from his job asking him where he was, but when he didn’t respond, no one followed up.
“Dominic didn’t show up,” Joseph Green said when he called Nathan Lehman, one of his son’s supervisors. “Why didn’t you check up on him?”
Lehman reportedly responded that he supervises more than 100 employees, and he doesn’t like getting them in trouble for absences.
Though he failed to look in on his employee, Lehman did say, “among the staff in my charge, Dominic stood out for being exceptionally punctual — he always logged in and out of his shifts precisely on time.”
Over at Healthcare Staffing Professionals, Arianna Garcia stated the company’s policy is to contact employees after the third consecutive no-show and then call the emergency contacts. The punctual but introverted Dominic had been missing from work for two days.
“The job is your first point of contact,” said Dominic’s mother, Jeannine, who believes there may be a need for a law requiring employers to quickly call emergency contacts in cases of unexplained absences.
Far from being negligent, the county health department insists it went “above and beyond” in the efforts to track down Green when he didn’t show up for work, including “several efforts to contact Dominic through various methods starting on the initial no-show date, including on a non-working holiday.”
“Public Health takes the welfare of our workforce seriously and remains saddened by the passing of Dominic Green,” said a department spokesperson in a statement. “In his time as a remote contract worker for DPH, Dominic’s hard work and dedication to public health left an impression on those with whom he worked.”
At the funeral, Joseph Green urged attendees to hold their loved ones tight and check in on them often.
“Please know,” he said, “that no employer is going to care for you like your family.”
According to all the evidence, Dominic Green simply went to bed and never woke up.
With more than 60% of workers who are able to do their jobs remotely working from home all or most of the time, Green’s sad story is one that could easily be repeated unless people take the time to check on each other.
Said his grieving father, “How many people out there may be single and don’t have somebody else at home to see that they’re OK?”
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