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Investigator: Nurse says she was fired for reporting alleged abuse

1:16 AM, Mar 6, 2013   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Nurse Annie O'Malley says she was fired from the MetroHealth Prentiss Center nursing home for reporting what she believed to be abuse inside the facility.

"I don't think Tina or the Prentiss Center wants to have any more bad publicity," OMalley said.

Tina Szatala is the nursing home's chief administrator. O'Malley was referring to her and the series of reports that Investigator Tom Meyer aired in June 2011 regarding the abuse of Esther Piskor, 78, a resident suffering from Alzheimers.

O'Malley says she contacted the state about an incident in September of last year regarding a 90-year-old resident who was alone in her room, screaming and crying for help. The resident needed assistance to go to the bathroom.

O'Malley says when nurses' aides didn't respond, the resident decided to climb out of bed and into a wheelchair.

"The bed was in the high position. 4 rails up. This woman crawled out of bed, which she could have killed herself, getting out of bed," said O'Malley.

Following the incident, MetroHealth said staff was retrained, a nurses' aide was disciplined, and O'Malley was fired for "a history of policy and behavioral infractions."  

O'Malley fired back. "I was fired because I reported the abuse," she said.

The state did not cite MetroHealth for abuse, but cited the facility because staff failed to contact Szatala immediately about the alleged abuse.

O'Malley says that's not her fault. She says she did everything by the book by notifying her supervisor of the incident on the night it happened. 

O'Malley also contacted a relative of the elderly woman. Vanessa Jones, a former nurse at the Prentiss Center, says she's glad O'Malley called because the nursing home didn't.

"I decided to remove my aunt from the facility right away," Jones said. Jones also told the Investigator Tom Meyer she was dismissed from MetroHealth regarding unrelated matters.

When Channel 3 news contacted Szatala by phone, she immediately hung up after the Investigator Tom Meyer identified himself. 

James Armstrong, a spokesman for the hospital, pointed out that the allegation of abuse was not substantiated. But O'Malley says she was never questioned by investigators and believes they aren't getting the whole story.

The state says it's now going to reach out to O'Malley and talk with her.

Armstrong said MetroHealth is committed to providing the highest quality care.

O'Malley plans to sue the MetroHealth under the Ohio whistleblower law which protects employees from reprisals if they report wrongdoing.

WKYC-TV

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