Iowa nurse sanctioned for adopting baby, then fired after licensing board error

An Iowa nurse was sanctioned by the state Board of Nursing, then fired from two jobs, after adopting the baby of a former patient, the Iowa Capital Dispatch reported Feb. 24. 

Miriam Simon was sanctioned for violating state regulations pertaining to patient privacy and for attempting to initiate an emotional, social or business relationship with a patient for personal gain regardless of the patient's consent, according to the report. However, the Board of Nursing erroneously listed her violation as financial exploitation of a patient, a serious offense that can lead to criminal charges. Reportedly, the financial exploitation information is what caused Cresco-based Regional Health Services of Howard County to fire her earlier in February.

Ms. Simon's attorney contacted the Board of Nursing about the error. The board apologized and corrected the information, but she is still out of a job.

Ms. Simon decided to adopt the baby of a former patient in the U.S. on a visa, who feared she would be deported if she dropped out of school to care for the child. Ms. Simon had no intention of adopting the child until the patient reached out to her on Facebook. Ms. Simon treated the patient in the obstetrics unit at Decorah-based Winneshiek Medical Center in September 2021. The hospital fired her in 2022 after learning of the adoption.

The Iowa Capital Dispatch reported the board's sanctions on Feb. 17, 2023, and five days later, Ms. Simon was fired by Regional Health Services of Howard County.

"Part of me now is, like, 'Do I even want to be a nurse, and is all this even worth it?'" she told the Capital Dispatch. "But nursing is my career, my passion and my whole life. I am good at it, and my patients love me. My refrigerator door is [covered] with notes from patients. … And I just feel like everything has been ripped out from under me, all for something I did purely out of love and compassion for this baby and his mother."

The board and Ms. Simon settled the charges against her with an agreement that required her to complete 30 hours of educational training on patient privacy and take a three-day course in professional boundaries and ethics.

Her attorney, Steve Lombardi, took issue with how the Board of Nursing allowed incorrect information to be posted to Nursys, a national database of disciplinary data. "Miriam Simon is being treated differently than Regional Health Services of Howard County's other nurse employees who have had the same, or similar, actions taken against them by the Iowa Board of Nursing," Mr. Lombardi told the Capital Dispatch.

Officials at the Iowa Board of Nursing and Regional Health Services of Howard County did not respond to the Capital Dispatch's requests for comment.

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