Somehow a critical video at Montefiore was erased, according to the lawyer representing two nurses fired for allegedly falsifying COVID-19 test samples.
Marie Gelle, then-assistant director of nursing at Montefiore, viewed the surveillance tape on Oct. 21, 2020, and “found the relevant portion to be blank,” Steven A. Sindell of Sindell & Sindell LLP of Beachwood wrote in an April 28 legal filing.
Sindell represents Tina R. King, Montefiore’s then-director of nursing, and Gelle, who were terminated Oct. 29, 2020. King and Gelle are suing Montefiore and Menorah Park, its two top executives and others. Montefiore and Menorah Park affiliated July 1, 2020.
According to Sindell’s legal filing, as she was being terminated, King told Menorah Park COO Richard Schwalberg that Montefiore did not have a surveillance tape showing the Mandel 3 hallway for the relevant date and time.
Schwalberg then called in a technician “after daytime hours on a Friday,” and the person was asked “to remove something from the surveillance camera and/or examine it,” Sindell wrote in the legal brief.
The two nurses were accused of submitting falsified testing swabs of 33 residents on one unit of Montefiore Oct. 13, 2020. Those tests came back negative, but in subsequent tests, all 33 were positive.
Both nurses insist they are innocent, Sindell wrote in the legal brief.
A licensed practical nurse told her unit manager and later Montefiore’s then-administrator, Ariel Hyman, she did not see King and Gelle enter patient rooms to conduct the testing, according to an Ohio Department of Health investigation.
Hyman was also terminated Oct. 29, 2020, after he “failed to oversee the situation appropriately,” James R. Newbrough, president and CEO of Menorah Park, wrote to residents and family, following the terminations.
The Ohio Attorney General’s Office is conducting a criminal investigation, according to Schwalberg’s April 23 affidavit. In addition, Schwalberg said in the affidavit, three state agencies are conducting investigations: the Ohio Board of Nursing, the Ohio Board of Long-term Services and Supports and the Ohio Department of Health.
In a statement released to the Cleveland Jewish News via email May 4, Beth Silver, Menorah Park’s director of public relations and marketing wrote, “We respect the processes that are underway related to this matter and will not be making any comments regarding ongoing litigation or investigations.”
Newbrough and Schwalberg are defendants in King and Gelle’s Dec. 9 lawsuit. Others are the Montefiore Home, Menorah Park Center for Senior Living Bet Moshav Zekenim Hadati and John Does I-X.
The defendants are seeking a motion for a stay of all proceedings and a protective order following a motion for discovery requesting evidence on the part of plaintiffs King and Gelle.
Multiple attempts to reach Hyman for this story were unsuccessful.