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The former top two nurses at Montefiore in Beachwood have each received notices that they may face disciplinary actions following an alleged COVID-19 testing falsification incident at Montefiore Oct. 13, 2020.

Tina R. King, former director of nursing at Montefiore, and Marie Gelle, former assistant director of nursing, both received notices explaining that they face denial or permanent denial of their applications to reactivate their nursing licenses.

In addition, their licenses may face revocation, permanent revocation, suspension, restrictions on their practice, reprimand or other discipline as well as fines of up to $500 per violation.

King and Gelle were assigned to take samples for COVID-19 testing of residents on the Mandel 3 unit in the early morning of Oct. 13, 2020.

“You were not observed on the Mandel 3 unit until approximately 5:00 a.m., when you entered an office and remained for approximately 30 minutes, until leaving the office and Mandel 3 unit with a bag full of vials,” the May 20 notices read. “You were not observed entering/leaving patient rooms from 3:58 a.m. to 5:10 a.m. All of the 33 specimens you purportedly collected tested ‘negative’ for COVID-19, despite some of the 33 patients having COVID-19 symptoms, and/or testing positive for COVID-19 within the week.”

The notices state, “a licensed nurse shall not falsify any patient record or any other document prepared or utilized in the course of, or in conjunction with, nursing practice.”

King and Gelle are entitled to a hearing under Ohio law and may appear in person, or they may be represented by an attorney or other representatives.

They have 30 days to respond to the virtually identical notices, signed by Patricia A. Sharpnack, supervising member of the Ohio Board of Nurses.

Copies of the notices were sent to King and Gelle’s lawyers, Rachel and Steven Sindell of Sindell & Sindell LLP of Beachwood, and to James T. Wakley, principal assistant attorney general of Ohio.

King and Gelle were terminated Oct. 29, along with then-administrator Ariel Hyman.

The nurses have sued Montefiore and Menorah Park, Menorah Park CEO James R. Newbrough and Menorah Park COO Richard Schwalberg, alleging wrongful termination.

“These two devoted nurses are innocent,” Sindell said. “They completely deny these charges. They have voluntarily taken and passed polygraph tests, verifying the truthfulness of their denials. We have requested hearings where we will present evidence demonstrating that these charges are untrue. These charges are merely allegations, not proven facts.”

The Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports, which licenses nursing home administrators, has also been investigating Hyman.

Deb Veley, executive director of the Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports, told the CJN May 25 the board will vote at its June 3 meeting about sending a similar notice to Hyman.

“We will be discussing a potential notice of opportunity for Ariel,” Veley said.

Hyman’s lawyer, Matthew Gurbach at Bricker & Eckler Attorneys at Law in Cleveland, told the CJN May 26 he had no comment at this time out of respect for the judicial process.

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