Foreign Nurses Charged For Walking Off Job

  1. Smithtown nurses charged with endangering kids after walk-out

    Ten nurses who abruptly resigned from their jobs last year at a Smithtown nursing center were charged Thursday -- along with an attorney who advised them -- with endangering children.

    The nurses who work for Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Center, were accused of endangering six children ranging in age from 2 to 7 -- four were on ventilators, one was on oxygen support, and another was terminally ill -- when they abandoned their posts April 7 at the end of their shifts, said Suffolk County assistant district attorney Leonard Lato.

    "You cannot walk out on disabled children who have nobody to call," Lato said. "Whatever their dispute, they could have said they intended to walk out in 24 hours."

    The nurses' sudden departure, he said, left the center scrambling for replacements on a Friday evening. The action was spurred, their current attorney said, by complaints about pay and hours.

    The nurses charged were: Juliet Anilao, 35, of Kew Gardens; Harriet Avila, 24, Mark Dela Cruz, 29, Claudine Gamiao, 39, Elmer Jacinto, 31, all of Elmhurst; Jennifer Lampa, 37, Rizza Maulion, 35, Theresa Ramos, 33, all of Smithtown; James Millena, 32, of Brooklyn; Ranier Sichon, 32, of Radcliff, Ken.

    The nurses were Philippine citizens who worked for Sentosa Care, a group of nursing facilities located throughout New York. The affiliated Sentosa Recruitment Agency recruits nurses from the Philippines for permanent employment in the U.S.

    Felix Vinluan, 42, of Westbury, is the attorney accused of advising the nurses to resign.

    All 11 were charged with sixth-degree conspiracy, five counts of endangering the welfare of a child and six counts of endangering the welfare of a physically disabled person -- all misdemeanors. Vinluan also was charged with fifth-degree criminal solicitation, a misdemeanor.

    All pleaded not guilty in Suffolk County Court in Riverhead and were released. If convicted, they could face up to six years in prison and deportation.

    "There is no crime," said the nurses' attorney, James Druker, of Garden City. "Nobody was endangered."

    The nurses, who have been on the job a few months to two years, were recruited from the Philippines. They had a three-year commitment to Sentosa Care, and because they broke their contracts when they left, the nurses were liable for $25,000, the indictment said.

    "They just wanted out," Druker said. "They didn't leave for better jobs, they were just tired of broken promises."

    The nurses, he said, were not allowed to work the shifts they were promised, were not given a night differential and were not being paid for overtime.

    Vinluan, the attorney who advised the nurses, was just doing his job, said his attorney, Oscar Michelen, of Mineola. " only advised them of what their legal rights were under the law," Michelen said. "The contract allowed them to leave."

    The indictment says the same day the 10 nurses resigned, two nurses from Split Rock Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in the Bronx and two nurses from Bayview Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Island Park had also resigned; the day before, 10 nurses from Brookhaven Rehabilitation and Health Care Center in Far Rockaway had resigned. All are owned by Sentosa Care. Those nurses were not charged.

    Staff writer Eden Laiken contributed to this story.
    Last edit by brian on Apr 1, '07
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    About Gin Gin

    Joined: Dec '05; Posts: 24; Likes: 3

    222 Comments

  3. by   TrudyRN
    Dear God, it is all so awful. They should have given notice of their intention to walk out. When dealing with human life, it is different than dealing with cars on an assembly line or packages waiting in a shipping room to be shipped.

    I do feel for the nurses, who were likely getting screwed over by their employer but there is a right way and a wrong way to walk out.

    I hope they get some punishment, that would be not too harsh if no one was actually harmed. If someone was harmed, throw the book at them. But also sue the living daylights out of their employer.
  4. by   lllliv
    The nurses who work for Avalon Gardens Rehabilitation and Health Center, were accused of endangering six children ranging in age from 2 to 7 -- four were on ventilators, one was on oxygen support, and another was terminally ill -- when they abandoned their posts April 7 at the end of their shifts, said Suffolk County assistant district attorney Leonard Lato.


    how did they abandon if it was at the end of their shift??

    also it says their contract allowed them to leave.
  5. by   chris_at_lucas_RN
    We will never be so desperate for nurses that we are OK with those poor excuses who view their positions as "just a job," their patients as inanimate objects to be left sitting for Lord knows how long until someone else bothers to show up.

    I think the penalties described are too lenient.

    It was this sort of sad, irresponsible and uncaring behavior that caused me to quit my first nursing job; even the nurse manager didn't care--she made excuses!

    Not everyone who does stupid and insensitive things is getting screwed by their employer. They left handicapped children on vents to fend for themselves.
  6. by   suzanne4
    And there was one company that they all worked for, that was not listed in the article. There have been many lawsuits that have been filed against the company.

    But the tihing that does not make sense is that it states that they walked out at the end of their shifts. There should have been replacements there for them, not that the company was expecting them to all stay over and work automatically. Something here is not as it seems. There is much more that is being left out of this.

    How many nurses here have quit a job after completing their job for the shift, and decided not to return there? That has happened many times in the US as well as all over the world. And that is not considered abandonment. Their shift was completed.
  7. by   lllliv
    "The 10 nurses who abruptly resigned from their jobs at a Smithtown nursing center will be protected by federal labor law unless Suffolk prosecutors can prove the walkout endangered patients, a federal labor official said Friday."If you walk out to protest working conditions, that kind of subject matter is a legitimate basis of protest," said Al Blyer, director of the National Labor Relations Board's Brooklyn region, which covers Long Island."The burden is going to be on the employer to show that by this walkout, they really put into jeopardy the health of the patients."
    Unionized workers must give 10 days' notice preceding a work stoppage, but because the nurses were non-union, they were not required to give notice under the National Labor Relations Act."

    i found this quote on another message board but it didn't give a link to the source. i don't think the nurses did anything wrong. they finished their shift and quit.
  8. by   chococroissant
    Somehow I find it hard to believe they had simply walked out. APparently, they ended their shift. ALso, could it be possible that they brought up their grievances to the hospital or even the agency but no one really tried to resolve anything with them?

    Hopefully, none of the children got hurt though.
  9. by   kukukajoo
    End of shift and abandonment don't fit in the same sentence. Also considering all the other walkouts, why were just the foreign nurses charged? Sounds like they are being targeted.
  10. by   NurseguyFL
    Quote from suzanne4
    Something here is not as it seems.

    I agree. There has to be more to this story than is mentioned in the article.
  11. by   Sheri257
    This was posted on another thread but, here's the actual indictment:

    http://www.co.suffolk.ny.us/da/press...et%20al%20.pdf

    What apparently happened was nurses at more than one facility all resigned at the same time, apparently under the advice of this one attorney. It was almost like they all went on strike. At the very least, it does look like an organized walkout.

    However, according to the DA, there wasn't reasonable notice. They all just resigned effective immediately and, with all of them resigning at the same time ... there were no available replacements.

    That appears to be the problem. Even when nurses' unions strike, they usually give plenty of notice so the facility can find replacements. That apparently didn't happen in this case. And these kids were on respirators.

    In my state, at least, you've got to give the facility some reasonable notice. Even if you're at the end of the shift, you've got to give the facility at least four hours to find a replacement. Apparently they all walked out on a Friday night so ... finding replacements at night on the weekend, with everybody else quitting at the same time, made that virtually impossible.

    Even if the employer totally sucks, you still have to do your part to ensure continued nursing care and patient safety ... i.e. giving the facility enough reasonable notice to find replacement workers. But if you're also creating a situation where they can't find replacement workers on such short notice, that obviously has the potential to compromise patient safety even more.

    Afterall, none of this is the patients' fault.

    :typing
    Last edit by Sheri257 on Mar 24, '07
  12. by   SuesquatchRN
    Well, I think that what they did was wrong, if their reliefs hadn't yet come in.

    BUT. I am suspicious of the fact that other nurses, American nurses, who did the same thing and also worked for Sentosa, are not being criminally charged.
  13. by   Sheri257
    Quote from Suesquatch
    BUT. I am suspicious of the fact that other nurses, American nurses, who did the same thing and also worked for Sentosa, are not being criminally charged.
    Where does it say that American nurses weren't charged?

    I thought all of the nurses who resigned were represented by this same attorney, who was representing Filipino, not American nurses.

  14. by   SuesquatchRN
    Quote from lizz
    Where does it say that American nurses weren't charged?

    I thought all of the nurses who resigned were represented by this same attorney, who was representing Filipino, not American nurses.

    There were several Sentosa facilities with similar walkouts at EOS. The article mentions it. It also mentions that only the Pinoy nurses were cahrged.

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