Nurse Whistleblowers Close Final Chapter in Retaliation Case
November 10, 2011 - Comments Off
In what will hopefully be the final chapter in the story of whistleblower retaliation against two brave Texas nurses, the New York Times reported Monday that the doctor who retaliated against them pled guilty and was sentenced to 60 days in jail, a five year probation, and a $5,000 fine. Dr. Rolando G. Arafiles, Jr., formerly of the Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, Texas, pled guilty on Monday to two counts of felony misuse of official information and two counts of retaliation against the nurses who blew the whistle on him, Anne Mitchell and Vicki Galle. The retaliation included firings, indictments and prosecution of the nurses – all on trumped-up charges, ironically, if misuse of official information.
Dr. Arafiles did not act alone when he set upon the two nurses following their anonymous letter to the state medical board about Dr. Arafiles’ dangerous practices. He is the fourth and final member of the retaliatory cabal to be punished. Prior to Dr. Arariles’ sentencing, the hospital administrator, Stan Wiley, was sentenced to 30 days in jail; the county sheriff, Robert Roberts, was sentenced to 100 days in jail; and the county prosecutor, Scott Tidwell, was sentenced to 120 days in jail. In addition, the nurses won a $750,000 settlement from the county.
There is something truly heart-warming about this story. Two nurses saw unsafe practices at their hospital and reported it to the proper authorities. In response, rather than moving to fix those unsafe practices, the accused doctor, the hospital administrator, the county sheriff, and the county prosecutor all worked together to harass and discredit these women. And while the full weight of the system came to bear on them, they continued to stand strong. One by one, over the course of two years, they sent every one of these people who had abused their power and retaliated against them to spend time behind bars, and recouped a hefty financial settlement along the way. Hollywood could not have written it better.