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The former clinical manager of an Iowa hospice claims she was instructed to lie to a patient’s family about a caregiver’s COVID-19 infection

The former clinical manager of a hospice in Iowa claims that she was given the order to lie to a patient’s family about the COVID-19 infection that was contracted by a caregiver.

According to the documents kept by the state, Michelle Hopp, who hails from Davenport, was employed by St. Croix Hospice in Iowa early this year in the capacity of a full-time manager of clinical services.

On August 29, one of the nurses that Hopp supervised took a COVID-19 test at work in the morning, and then, after work, but before the results were in, she took a test at her home. The results of the nurse’s at-home test came back positive for the virus. After that, Hopp alerted all of the institutions the nurse had been in on August 29 as well as all of the patients that she had seen on that day.

The discovery shocked the spouse of one of the patients, and she expressed her belief that the nurse had been infected with the virus when the two of them met on August 29.

Hopp informed her manager, Amanda Harford, that her partner expressed interest in speaking with a supervisor.

The findings of the judge who presided over a hearing on Hopp’s subsequent claim for unemployment benefits indicate that Harford instructed Hopp to inform the patient’s spouse on the morning of August 29 that the nurse’s COVID-19 test had been negative. Hopp’s claim for unemployment benefits had been the subject of the hearing.

Hopp apparently resisted, stating that the company had not yet received the test results and that she could not tell the patient’s husband anything other than the truth in their absence. According to the allegations, Harford insisted that Hopp carry out her directives. Hopp declined, and she subsequently explained that she didn’t want to put her nursing license in jeopardy.

After another four days, she announced her resignation, citing issues with the training. After that, a few days later, she explained her choice to quit by bringing up the COVID-19 test as a factor in her decision.

Hopp’s application for unemployment benefits was recently denied by Administrative Law Judge Alexis Rowe. The judge stated that the reason for the denial was that Hopp had addressed the problem of being forced to lie to a patient’s husband after she resigned, rather than before she resigned.

Rowe decided that Hopp’s “issues were reasonable and comprehensible,” but she had not given her employer a chance to resolve her concerns. Rowe’s ruling was that Hopp was in violation of the law. Rowe stated that even while she “had strong personal reasons for her departure, these reasons do not establish good-cause reasons attributable to the employer,” despite the fact that she “had good personal reasons for her resignation.”

The Iowa Capital Dispatch attempted to contact St. Croix Hospice through phone and email multiple times, but they did not answer.

A judge has recently considered the unemployment claims of the following additional Iowa residents:

— William Abernathey, who was fired from his position as a critical-care paramedic at Sartori Memorial Hospital in August for violating the “fundamental principles” of the hospital. Abernathey was responsible for providing emergency medical care to patients. The day before Abernathey was terminated from his position, he and another paramedic were called to a residence in which a person had expressed suicidal ideation. The patient was adamant on avoiding the hospital at all costs. At one point, Abernathey and the Cedar Falls police officers who were present engaged in a brief but intense argument, with Abernathey claiming that the subject needed to be brought to the hospital. The disagreement lasted only a few minutes. After the event, the police department provided the hospital with the footage captured by their body cameras. The hospital administrators who watched the film came to the conclusion that Abernathey had been impolite and frightening to the patient, and that he had lacked sympathy for the individual. The hospital declined to hand over the footage for review by Administrative Law Judge Jason Dunn at Abernathey’s unemployment case. Despite this, Abernathey was ultimately granted benefits under the unemployment program. According to the ruling made by Dunn, “the footage from the body-cam is the only reason (Abernathey) is being terminated, and it would be the greatest evidence to support the employer’s stance.” “The patient required emergency medical assistance that was only available at the hospital and not in the ambulance on the way to the hospital,” said the paramedic.

— Chelsi Ingles, who was employed by Cedar County as the public health manager up until the month of July, when she was terminated for stealing timecards. After examining Ingles’ timecards with computerized data indicating the times at which she reported for work on a daily basis, the county came to the conclusion that she was claiming payment for hours that she had never actually put in. Ingles stated that there were instances when she worked unusual hours and that she occasionally carried out work, such as viewing films relating to her job, outside of the typical office hours. She was not eligible for benefits because the judge presiding over her case came to the conclusion that even if she had been granted permission “to arrive early or watch videos and bill at odd hours, that does not excuse her ongoing, poor recordkeeping that only worked to her advantage.” [Case quote] “that does not excuse her ongoing, poor recordkeeping that only worked to her advantage,” the judge said.

— Stephanie Cox, who was a full-time jail officer for Pottawattamie County up until the month of September, when she was terminated from her position. It was consistent with allegations made by the inmate that on August 8, Cox was allegedly seen on the surveillance footage of the jail pulling an inmate’s hair many times and then “flicking” the inmate’s ear. This occurred after Cox had pulled the inmate’s hair multiple times. Cox asserted that she believed the inmate was kidding when he urged her to cease what she was doing. The judge who presided over a hearing on Cox’s claim for unemployment benefits recently ruled that regardless of Cox’s intentions, “the acts of pulling hair and flicking ears are elevated from annoying to degrading given the extreme inequality of power between the parties.” The judge added that Cox’s actions “may even constitute criminal assault.” Cox is no longer eligible for unemployment benefits.

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