Cleveland Clinic announced in a Jan. 2 statement it fired a former resident once it learned she had posted anti-Semitic sentiments on her social media accounts.
Eileen Sheil, executive director of corporate communications for Cleveland Clinic, identified the former resident as Lara Kollab and confirmed Kollab has not been employed by the Clinic since September 2018. Information began circulating online Dec. 31 that Kollab had made these posts.
Kollab started her residency in July 2018. Sheil told the Cleveland Jewish News the hospital became aware of Kollab’s sentiments during her residency and promptly conducted an internal review.
According to a screenshot from Canary Mission, an anonymous online watchdog group, Kollab tweeted she would “purposely give all the yahood the wrong meds (sic).” In the screenshot, Canary Mission wrote yahood referred to the Arabic word for Jews.
“This individual was employed as a supervised, first-year resident at our hospital from July to September 2018. When we learned of the social media post, we took immediate action, conducted an internal review and placed her on administrative leave. Her departure was related to those posts and she has not worked at Cleveland Clinic since September,” according to the Jan. 2 statement from the Clinic. “For first-year residents, multiple safeguards and direct supervision are required for patient care and prescribing medicine. In addition, there have been no reports of any patient harm related to her work during the time she was here.
“In no way do these beliefs reflect those of our organization. We fully embrace diversity, inclusion and a culture of safety and respect across our entire health system.”
Sheil said hiring managers are not required to look into a possible employee’s social media presence as fake accounts can be used. She added the Clinic does conduct background checks, references checks and credential checks among others to vet a candidate.
Kollab was issued a training certificate by the State Medical Board of Ohio in July 2018, according to state records. Kollab’s certificate status is still shown as active online and expires in June 2021, but is no longer valid. Kollab does not have a medical license and cannot practice medicine on her own.
Tessie Pollock, director of communication for the State Medical Board of Ohio, said training certificates are only valid if they are actively part of the program that is indicated on the original application. If the individual has been dismissed by the training program, the certificate is no longer valid.
“Sometimes we would keep a license or training certificate in active status online because that allows us to conduct complaint investigations,” she said, adding Ohio law does not allow her to indicate if the board is investigating an individual because it’s confidential.
The former Clinic resident is not allowed to train in medicine in Ohio as she is no longer part of an accredited program. Pollock said if an individual is found in violation of Ohio’s Medical Practices Act after an investigation is completed, that can result a range of disciplines from a suspension or fine to a permanent license revocation in the state. However, Kollab could become licensed in another state though Pollock said all medical boards share information so if there is discipline in one state, others will see it.
Rabbi Jeremy Pappas, regional director of the Anti-Defamation League, said the ADL had no prior knowledge of Kollab’s posts on social media. There are no plans for the ADL to get involved in this incident, but Pappas said he hopes all employers will work with more diligence to ensure they know who their employees are while holding them accountable for current and past statements.
Once information spread of the former resident’s remarks Dec. 31, Pappas said the community reacted in an appropriate way by contacting the ADL and Cleveland Clinic.
“It’s obviously something very scary for the entire Jewish community. However, it was encouraging to see how quickly the community -– once they became aware of this incident -– not only contacted us and others, but also contacted the Cleveland Clinic,” he said. “It’s always encouraging to see the community move to action.”
Kollab’s Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Linkedin accounts have been deactivated.
According to Canary Mission screenshots, the posts were made from as long ago as June 2011 and as recent as August 2017. Canary Mission compiles an online database that tracks anti-Semitic and anti-Israel activists.
The former Clinic resident graduated from Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine, which has campuses in New York City and Middletown, N.Y. According to its website, the college is rooted in Jewish tradition and focuses on serving diverse communities, including its Orthodox populations. The college released a statement on its Twitter account Dec. 31:
“Touro College is appalled by the anti-Semitic comments reportedly made by Lara Kollab, a graduate of the Touro College of Osteopathic Medicine. The mission of Touro College is to educate, perpetuate and enrich the historic Jewish tradition of tolerance and dignity. We are shocked that one of our graduates would voice statements that are antithetical to Touro and to the physicians’ Hippocratic Oath. We have received word from the Cleveland Clinic where Dr. Kollab was last affiliated and learned that she is no longer employed there.”
Multiple attempts to reach Kollab were unsuccessful.