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Nurses claim they were fired for reporting misconduct at Evanston clinic

Two nurses are claiming they were fired from a north suburban mental health clinic after they unveiled illegal conduct.

Saundria Gray and Vanessa Iverson filed a lawsuit in Cook County Circuit Court Monday against Greenwood Care Inc. in Evanston and Arlene Siap, a senior manager at the facility.

Siap, who could not be reached Monday, was hired in September 2012 and helped change policies in staffing, maintenance and integrity of medical records and the management of elderly or mentally ill residents, the suit said.

On many occasions, supervisors told nurses to alter or completely rewrite progress notes “in order to conceal improper and illegal practices of the nursing home,” the suit claims.

The suit blames a reduction in staffing for a rise in patient-on-patient violence, but records were tampered with to underreport or conceal the incidents — a violation of state law, Gray and Iverson claim.

Del Rychener, an interim administrator for Greenwood, said he was not aware of the lawsuit Monday evening and could not comment.

In late December 2012, Iverson complained about the alleged misconduct — including narcotics tampering — to her supervisors, and then met three times with higher-ups, the suit said. Still, nothing was done, she claims.

Gray decided to move a step forward and contact the Illinois Department of Health and the Office of the Executive Inspector General on Jan. 22, 2013. The next day, an inspector from IDPH came to the facility and interviewed several staff members about the allegations.

Gray was fired Jan. 24, 2013, in what she claims was retaliation for contacting the state agencies. Iverson was fired three days later, also for her complaints, the suit said.

Among the allegations, the suit claims Gray and Iverson’s terminations violated the Illinois Whistle Blower and Nursing Home Care acts, which protect employees who report misconduct in the workplace.

They are asking for $50,000 in damages and separate punitive damages from Siap.