Fired nurse should be reinstated, arbitrator rules


A federal arbitrator has ruled that a Sunrise Hospital and Medical Center nurse fired in connection with a 2010 baby death in the neonatal intensive care unit should be reinstated, a spokesman for the nurse's union said Monday.

Nick Di Archangel , communications director for Service Employees International Union Nevada, said that on Monday the union received notice that former Sunrise nurse Sharon Ochoa-Reyes had won the arbitration case that the union had brought on her behalf.

In January, Jessica May Rice, another nurse fired by Sunrise officials in connection with the July 2, 2010, death of 2-month-old Miowne Obote, also had an arbitrator rule that she should be reinstated.

Though rulings from the Federal Mediation & Conciliation Service, a government agency, are final and binding, Sunrise has refused to hire Rice back.

Attempts to reach Sunrise spokesman Dan Davidson late Monday afternoon were unsuccessful.

No criminal charges have been filed in connection with the death of baby Obote, whose catheter was severed. The infant's death was ruled a homicide by the Clark County coroner.

Monday's arbitration ruling came three days after Ochoa-Reyes filed a lawsuit in Clark County District Court against the hospital and four of its executives, charging that she was wrongfully terminated and defamed. She asked for unspecified damages.

Ochoa-Reyes' attorney George Kelesis said in the lawsuit that Sunrise officials made the nurse a scapegoat for a long-standing and dangerous problem at the hospital, with the intent of "deflecting attention" from their own failure to make necessary changes in catheter lines.

Ochoa-Reyes told the Review-Journal in November 2010 that nurses in the neonatal unit had been having problems with catheters breaking for months.

"Even though nurses reported the product failures, the hospital administration basically paid no real attention to it until babies got hurt," she said.

Kelesis was ecstatic Monday.

"Sharon's supposed to be reinstated with back pay, too," Kelesis said. "It's the same as the other nurse's case. It's in line with the facts of the case."

In January, Di Archangel noted that a federal arbitrator ruled that Rice should "be made whole as though nothing had happened."

Contact reporter Paul Harasim at pharasim@reviewjournal.com or 702-387-2908.

 

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