A lawyer for two former top nurses at Montefiore have requested a three-month delay for October hearings on their licensure status before the Ohio Nursing Board following alleged falsification of COVID-19 testing at the Beachwood senior living facility.

Tina King, director of nursing, and Marie Gelle, assistant director of nursing, were fired Oct. 29, 2020, Menorah Park CEO James R. Newbrough wrote residents and family members the day of the firings. Menorah Park and Montefiore affiliated July 1, 2020.

The reason for the delay is that Rachel A. Sindell, co-counsel representing the nurses, has pneumonia, cannot wear a mask and the average healing time is three months, according to virtually identical Sept. 21 emails requesting the delay on behalf of the nurses.

The hearings follow an incident in question where COVID-19 tests for 33 residents on one unit of Montefiore came back negative Oct. 13, 2020, after King and Gelle allegedly sent falsified swabs for testing, the Cleveland Jewish News previously reported. When the residents were retested, all came back positive within 16 days.

King and Gelle filed a wrongful termnation suit against Montefiore and Menorah Park and other defendants

Dec. 9, 2020. That trial has been set for July 18, 2022 before Judge Kelly Ann Gallagher at Cuyahoga County Court of Common Pleas.

King and Gelle are also under criminal investigation, their lawyer, Steven A. Sindell of Sindell & Sindell LLP of Beachwood, has said in court filings.

“Since respondent is inactive, there is no risk to the public,” the Sept. 21 emails from Rachel Sindell read regarding the nurses’ licensure status. She added that the Ohio attorney general “is not objecting. Please confirm and rule on it ASAP.”

The hearing officer has not yet made a ruling, according to Holly Fischer, chief legal counsel at the Ohio Board of Nursing.

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