Nurse claims she was fired for not allowing CEO's wife to change patient's meds

David Yates Feb. 26, 2008, 6:56am

When an "overbearing" woman started demanding that a patient's medication be altered, Gwendolyn Marie Marks, a nurse at Renaissance Hospital, told her that she and her fellow nurses "could not alter medications without a doctor's order."

Not satisfied with Marks' explanation, the "demanding" woman left and returned with Chris McMahon, her husband and CEO of the Groves hospital. McMahon attempted to fire Marks, but was stopped by a review board. Several months later, McMahon successfully fired Marks for a different alleged infraction.

On Feb. 25 Marks filed suit against Renaissance in the Jefferson County District Court, claiming she was wrongfully terminated for following hospital procedures and inadvertently telling the boss's wife "no."

According to her petition, sometime in spring 2007 an unidentified woman started hounding Marks for a patient's chart, wanting to know about the medications being prescribed.

"This woman was overbearing, demanding and persistent to the point of badgering the nurses," the suit said. "Further, the woman was demanding that the hospital staff begin administering particular medications to the patient."

Marks explained that nurses could not give her the chart nor could she look through the chart and told the allegedly pushy woman that nurses could not alter medications without a doctor's order.

"The woman left the nurses' station but soon returned with Renaissance CEO Chris McMahon," the suit said. "It was then discovered that the unidentified woman was Mr. McMahon's wife and the patient she was inquiring about was her father.

"Later that same day there was a meeting during which McMahon attempted to terminate plaintiff because of her response to the CEO's wife …"

Renaissance's Human Resources officer, Kay Weber, reviewed the incident, and opined that Marks had followed hospital policy and should not be terminated over the incident," the suit said. "As a result, plaintiff was not terminated at that time."

Nothing further was said or done regarding the incident until Weber retired from the hospital on June 29, 2007. Less than three weeks after Weber's departure, Marks was terminated.

"When asked why she was being terminated, plaintiff was told that the nursing student instructor had registered a general verbal complaint but did not specifically name her," the suit said.

"McMahon stated to plaintiff that the students liked going to her station with the exception of a few nurses. Plaintiff inquired if she had been named by the students; however, McMahon only replied that they did not want her there and that the decision had been made."

Marks claims she was wrongfully terminated for refusing to permit "an unauthorized person," McMahon's wife, to have access to a patient's chart and alter a patient's medications without a doctor's consent.

She is suing for actual, compensatory, consequential and punitive damages.

Marks is represented by Bruce Gregory of the Gregory Law Firm in Port Neches.

Judge Gary Sanderson, 60th Judicial District, has been assigned to the case.

Case No. B181-309

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