New Hampshire AG: Hospital knowingly hired CNO without a nursing license

Lakes Region General Hospital in Laconia, N.H., has agreed to pay $40,000 to the state to resolve a Consumer Protection Act complaint alleging the hospital knowingly hired a chief nursing officer who did not have an active nursing license in New Hampshire, according to The Laconia Daily Sun.

New Hampshire and federal laws require CNOs to have an active nursing license. Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald said in a news release LRGH knew Patricia Strohla did not have an active New Hampshire nursing license before she assumed her duties as CNO of the hospital.

"LRGH then improperly modified Ms. Strohla's job description to allow her a one-year grace period to obtain her license," Mr. MacDonald said.

Although Ms. Strohla did not have an active nursing license, she was listed on the hospital's website as a registered nurse, and she wore an employee badge that identified her as an RN.

"The state alleges that these actions by LRGH and Ms. Strohla violated the Consumer Protection Act," Mr. MacDonald said. "That Act prohibits any unfair or deceptive business practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce, including representing that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that such person does not have."

In June 2017, CMS cited LRGH for hiring Ms. Strohla, according to the report. After the CMS survey, the hospital "immediately rectified the situation and put in place safeguards to ensure that it would not happen again," LRGHealthcare President and CEO Kevin W. Donovan told The Laconia Daily Sun.

Ms. Strohla, who never obtained her New Hampshire nursing license and no longer works for LRGH, agreed to pay the state $1,500 to resolve the allegations.

The hospital and Ms. Strohla deny any wrongdoing, according to the report.

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