Sunday 15 December 2019

Nurse at centre of inquiry says she was 'harassed'

Mary Mealy a former nurse who was the Director of Care at a Longford nursing home.
Mary Mealy a former nurse who was the Director of Care at a Longford nursing home.

Emma Jane Hade

A nurse at the centre of a fitness-to-practise inquiry said she was harassed by her employer and that remarks were made to her which made her feel "very uncomfortable".

Sean Kelly, the proprietor of Thomond Lodge nursing home, has been accused of making "inappropriate" comments about Nurse Mary Mealy's "attire, appearance and hair".

The mother of four was before the Nursing and Midwifery Board yesterday for a hearing in relation to an allegation of "professional misconduct" made against her, including claims that in 2012 she had dumped medication prescribed for elderly residents at the home in a bin bag.

Ciaran Cravan, Ms Mealy's barrister, told the committee that his client said her boss "sat uncomfortably close to her at times".

It is also alleged that Mr Kelly had told her, "you are getting a bit hot and flustered there now yourself Mary, why don't you open the top buttons of your blouse and let some air in" during one conversation.

However, Mr Kelly, who employed the 41-year-old as the Director of Nursing at the facility in Ballymahon, Co Longford, for eight months, strongly refuted these allegations.

Giving evidence during the third day of the inquiry, Mr Kelly said that no formal complaints of this nature had ever been made against him by any of his employees.

The inquiry was called after it was claimed that Ms Mealy had asked a cleaner to dispose of a black bin bag that contained medication in August 2012, and that on another occasion prior to that a refuse sack was also found with medication abandoned at the nurse's station.

The inquiry heard that after being notified of the second incident, Mr Kelly took pictures of the evidence on his phone. However, Ms Mealy's defence disputed these photos being used as evidence in court due to the lack of "meta data". The CCTV footage from the home on the days in question is also unavailable.

Mr Cravan told the inquiry that Ms Mealy had also raised her concerns over staffing levels at the facility with the owner. And, it was also heard that nursing staff had to take rent money from residents who leased homes on the complex on behalf of the proprietor.

The committee heard that Mr Kelly held a number of meetings with Ms Mealy and he had raised his concerns with her over the allegations made against her. The inquiry heard the original notes were no longer available.

The hearing will continue at a later date.

Irish Independent

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