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Investigator: Internal MetroHealth memo sparks controversy

5:53 PM, Aug 22, 2011   |    comments
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CLEVELAND -- Is an internal memo obtained by Channel 3 News designed to discourage MetroHealth employees from discussing what's happening behind closed doors?

Tina Szatala, the administrator at the Prentiss Center at Met6roHealth, wrote a memo on Aug. 4, advising employees how to respond in the event investigators from the Ohio Attorney General's office show up unannounced.

"If you do agree to speak to the agent, the recommendation is that the interview be conducted on site at the Prentiss Center(MetroHealth's nursing home) and you advise the investigator that you would like the MetroHealth compliance officer to be in attendance," the memo says.

When the Investigator Tom Meyer sought clarification from Szatala, she hurried back into the nursing home and called security to have Meyer and his videographer escorted from the property.

Nursing home spokeperson Susan Christopher said in a statement that "the memo's purpose was to help guide staff and alleviate concerns. MetroHealth's compliance team was offered as support to Prentiss staff members during AG (attorney general) interviews. MetroHealth has totally cooperated with all aspects of the AG's investigation and has encouraged staff to cooperate."

Steve Piskor, whose hidden camera caught nurses aides abusing his elderly mother, says the memo is another attempt to hide what's going on inside the facility.

Piskor's attorney David Krause is bothered by the internal memo.

"This particular facility is a county-owned facility so it's affiliated with the government and they're essentially admonishing their employees not to cooperate with a government investigation. I would think that the idea of visiting a staff member at their home is to get the unfiltered truth about what happened without the employee feeling pressured by the presence of their employer, " Krause said.

Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine said the memo is not illegal.

"Our investigators are pretty experienced and we feel we can get the facts whether they put out a memo or not. This is a very serious situation and our investigation continues," DeWine said.

WKYC-TV

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