The former administrator of Montefiore testified Nov. 15 that he now believes COVID-19 testing occurred properly and that his mental illness played a part in his fabricated report to Menorah Park administration in October 2020, which led to his termination and the termination of two nurses.

“I would say I fell short of what was expected of me as a licensed nursing home administrator,” Ariel Hyman testified before a hearing officer with the Ohio Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports, which oversees licensure of nursing home administrators. “I was tremendously anxious, found it difficult to sleep. It took a toll on my physical and mental health.”

Hyman was fired after making the report to Menorah Park, which affiliated with Montefiore on July 1, 2020. In the report, he said he condoned the falsification about COVID testing on Oct. 13, 2020. He is accused of seven counts of violating Ohio Revised Code and/or Ohio Administrative Code, including incompetence, untrustworthiness, dishonest practices or irresponsibility, fraud or deceit, and being unfit or incompetent. He faces possible revocation, suspension and/or sanctions, or nothing.

In a virtual hearing, Assistant Attorney General Melinda Snyder of the Ohio Attorney General’s Office cross-examined both Hyman and Galit Askenazi, who holds board certification in both forensic psychology and neuropsychology.

Called as an expert witness, Askenazi testified that she did not believe Hyman’s mental illness affected his judgment or competency in October 2020, although she had not been given a job description of what a licensed nursing home administrator does.

“His mental health is stable,” Askenazi testified. “He would be competent to resume his previous work.”

Askenazi also said Hyman was decompensating in October 2020, meaning he was having an acute psychiatric episode, but that he was suspended from work prior to the height of that episode.

Hyman’s psychiatric record was entered into evidence by his attorney, James F. Flynn of Bricker & Eckler in Columbus.

Snyder read from Hyman’s notes as a patient with a psychiatrist, Dr. Elizabeth Stern, in which Stern quoted him as saying, “Honestly, I would feel better putting my narrative out and being able to hold my head high.”

Hyman testified that he told then-Menorah Park Chief Operating Officer Richard Schwalberg in October 2020 that Tina King, then-Montefiore director of nursing, had told him on Oct. 13, 2020, there wouldn’t be any positive test results, which she confirmed during a previous two-day testimony. King and Marie Gelle, then-assistant director of nursing, were responsible for testing on Oct. 13, 2020.

In his Nov. 15 testimony, Hyman acknowledged that the conversation with King ended there.

Schwalberg testified that Hyman told him there was more to the conversation and that he told King to send blank test swabs to Cleveland Clinic Hillcrest Hospital in Mayfield Heights for testing.

Snyder told Hyman Nov. 15, “You know that there’s been a cascade of consequences,” referring to regulatory and criminal investigations.

Hyman said he was aware that he is the subject of a criminal investigation by the state Attorney General’s Office.

Snyder asked whether he had recanted his earlier story in any other context.

Hyman testified he had not and “did as I was advised by my attorneys.”

Hyman briefly renewed his nursing home license and then let it lapse a second time, he testified.

Snyder asked Hyman whether he wanted to practice as a licensed nursing home administrator.

“I’m not sure,” he testified.

Hyman also said he would be willing to accept conditions placed on his license.

Written briefs are due Jan. 16, 2023, to hearing officer Linda Mosbacher. She will make a recommendation to the Ohio Board of Executives of Long-Term Services and Supports regarding revocation, suspension and/or sanctions. The board will vote about any possible discipline.

In addition to the criminal investigation by the Attorney General’s Office, about 12 wrongful death lawsuits were filed in Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas based on the alleged COVID testing falsification naming Hyman and others as a defendant. One lawsuit was settled. King and Gelle filed a wrongful termination suit against defendants including Menorah Park.

This is a developing story. Stay up-to-date at

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