Larimer sheriff’s deputy reprimanded after refusing to mask up in hospital

Problem Solvers

LOVELAND, Colo. (KDVR) — A Larimer County Sheriff’s deputy received a talk “in a good old fashioned way,” according to Sheriff Justin Smith, after the deputy ignored hospital policy to mask up.

The Problem Solvers obtained a copy of Deputy Jonathon Sanders’ body cam video from the night of Aug. 13.

Sanders was called to McKee Medical Center in Loveland to interview a victim of domestic violence patient.

The body cam reveals Sanders spoke to the victim in her room for more than 10 minutes, but never put on a surgical mask even when told by a nurse “it’s hospital policy that you have to have it so there’s some right there” and in the video the nurse hands him a mask.

Instead, the video shows Sanders place the mask on a counter when the nurse leaves the room while he continues to interview the patient.

When the nurse came back and realized Sanders never put the mask on, she confronted him again:

Nurse: I recommend that you wear it otherwise we have to call our house supervisor, it’s policy.
Sanders: Okay, can I speak to you out here?
Nurse: Sure.
Sanders: So I’m about to go arrest a man that’s armed…
Nurse: I understand that.
Sanders: Now I’m not asking you all go out and join me to allow me to do my job. Please just (let) me do my job here.
Nurse: You know what, this is not how it works okay? It is hospital policy.
Sanders: I’m going to finish doing my job.
Nurse: That’s okay and I will do my job.

At that point, video shows Sanders going back into the patient’s room without a mask while the nurse calls for a supervisor.

A few minutes later, a doctor entered the patient’s room and said, “Will you put a mask on sir for me?”

Sanders responds, “So we’re doing an interview right now, if you need me to step out so you can perform what need to medically, I will.”

Sanders would end up spending nearly 20 minutes in the hospital’s emergency room wing without a mask. As he left, he was confronted one final time by a nurse.

Nurse: What was your name?
Sanders: Sanders.
Nurse: Thank you.
Sanders: Would you like a business card?
Nurse: No I don’t need it.
Sanders: Are you sure?
Nurse: I’m positive but if you’re not going to wear a mask you need to go outside of the building.
Sanders: That’s what I’m currently doing.
Nurse: Perfect.
Sanders: Would you mind badging me out?
Nurse: We’ll get you out and I will talk to your supervisor because it is our hospital policy.
Sanders: Okay, thank you.

Smith told the Problems Solvers his deputy was in the wrong.

“We have an expectation that our deputy should’ve put the mask on in the hospital. We understand that hospitals up here are overwhelmed with patients. The staff is fatigued, we certainly understand that and they’ve got needs for protection,” said Smith.

Smith said Sanders claimed he was trying to build rapport with the patient and felt a mask wasn’t conducive, but now understands hospital policy overrides the deputy’s personal preference.

“We all have days where we make decisions that we regret. It’s the nature of being a human and I think he made his,” said Smith.

The deputy was given a verbal reprimand but no suspension because Smith said it’s his philosophy to give the least amount of discipline necessary to fix a problem and he was confident the mask issue wouldn’t repeat itself.

Larimer County hospital intensive care units have been at or above capacity for more than a month with some patients having to double up in rooms because of the COVID delta variant.

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