MIAMI – Venise Jean-Baptiste said she and her son suffered COVID-19 after a Miami doctor she worked with purposely infected her with the coronavirus.
Jean-Baptiste, an advanced registered nurse practitioner, said the exchange with Dr. Joseph Piperato happened when they ran into each other in the hallway.
They were at the Project Access Foundation’s Biscayne Medical office at 8000 Biscayne Blvd., near Miami’s Little River area. The nurse claims Piperato was showing symptoms of COVID-19 and that she demanded personal protective equipment (PPE), also suggesting that he get tested.
“He said, 'Well, if I have it, now you have it too. Now, leave me alone,’” Jean-Baptist said, adding that she and her son started to show symptoms within days of the alleged incident.
Jean-Baptiste was hospitalized. The experience, she said, was terrifying.
“I called my family and said, ‘This is what I want you to do with my son ... just in case if I don’t make it, because I don’t think I’m going to make it,'" Jean-Baptiste said.
Jean-Baptiste was so outraged that she decided to hire Attorney John Leighton and filed a lawsuit narrating how she claims Piperato infected her. She also accuses the medical office management of negligence during the coronavirus pandemic.
Jean-Baptiste claims her employer denied her access to the personal protective equipment that she needed to stay safe.
“This is just an example of profits over people, of not wanting to know whether someone is infected because they don’t want to shut the clinic," Leighton said about the case.
The Project Access Foundation is a nonprofit organization that advertises a commitment to not denying access to patients who are uninsured. A representative for the organization released a statement on Friday saying the office implemented the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines that were in place at the time.
“The allegations set forth in the complaint are unfounded and will be aggressively defended,” the representative said, adding the preventive measures at the office included symptom checks and the availability of PPE.
Aside from the Project Access Foundation and Piperato, Jean-Baptiste’s lawsuit also mentions Larkin Community Hospital, Inc., Jorge Carballo and Dr. Jack J. Michel, the founder of Larkin Health System.