Two nurses in Kermit, Winkler County, Texas felt a Physician had done wrong, and did their duty (which is protected), under the law: they reported the doctor to the State Medical Board.
Then, things got bad, but not like any sane person would think. The nurses were eventually charged in Criminal Court for “Misuse of official information“, the flimsiest of pretexts to punish them for their whistleblowing, which the Texas Medical Board said was both good and correct.
This mattered not, and they were forced to go to trial to defend themselves from imprisonment; They were very quickly found not guilty, then came the civil suit, which catches us up for today’s addition to the story…
First, imagine keeping your job as Hospital Administrator after this kind of public derision. No, it doesn’t end as you’d expect:
Via CBS 7:
A week after it was posted at the Winkler County Courthouse that Winkler County Memorial Hospital Administrator, Stan Wiley, would announce his resignation, he changed his mind.
In what board member, John Walton, is calling “the shortest meeting in the board’s history”, Wiley did not resign.
The resignation was put before the board members as a motion.
John Walton seconded the motion to “accept Wiley’s resignation” but none of the other board members did so.
Wiley then acted as if this were a dramatic show of support and decided to not resign.
Quite the vote of confidence…
That was on August 10th, by the way, the same day, again from CBS 7:
After their original concerns about Dr. Rolando Arafiles were substantiated by a state fine levied against Winkler County Memorial Hospital and an official complaint lodged against the Dr., the “Winkler County Nurses” were “compensated” today for their damages.
The nurses will split a nearly $1,000,000 settlement but nurse Anne Mitchell says this case was never about any money.
Vickilyn Galle and Anne Mitchell believed their anonymous report to the state in 2008 would be just that: anonymous (as is prescribed by nurse reporting laws).
There’s no way they could have predicted that standing up for patients’ rights would get them arrested, then prosecuted, then vindicated and now, more than two years later, leave them hard pressed to find a nursing job.
The four Winkler County Commissioners voted unanimously Tuesday afternoon, to settle the civil suit filed against the county and numerous other defendants.
The move means they are agreeing to pay $750,000 dollars to nurses, Anne Mitchell and Vickilyn Galle.
The county only has to pay $150K, the rest is covered by a risk management pool, which appears to be how Texas Counties self-insure.
I’d like to have seen the trial on this. It’s not enough for two nurses who will have to move a long way to even possibly continue their careers, and the behavior of the Sheriff and Prosecutor in all this is bafflingly ugly.
The lesson? 1) Don’t live in Winkler County, their public decision-making seems atrocious on every level and 2) if you’re going to report someone anonymously, don’t do it from a County owned computer, lest it be ‘investigated’. (Feel free to add your lesson in the comments, but I’m not interested in getting sued, so let’s not libel anyone, shall we?).
HT to Glenn, my West Texas news connection.