This has bizarre backwoods good ol’ boy written all over it, no offense to good ol’ boys: two American nurses, Vicki Galle and Anne Mitchell who, until they were fired in June, had been employed by the Winkler County Memorial Hospital in Kermit, West Texas for over 20 years. The two nurses not only lost their jobs at the small hospital, they are now facing criminal charges of misuse of official information, which, under the truly frightening Texas Penal Code, is a third-degree felony with a penalty of 2-10 years imprisonment and a $10,000 fine. * see updates below
What evil did Vicki and Anne perpetrate to merit this fate? On April 7th, 2009 they reported to the Texas Medical Board their concerns about Dr. Rolando Arafiles, one of three physicians on contract with the hospital. Arafiles, they claimed, was improperly encouraging patients to buy his own herbal “medicines”, among other concerns.
Arafiles in return filed a harassment complaint with the county sheriff’s department against the nurses. The subsequent criminal charges of misuse of official information claim that the nurses “sent patient files to the state medical board in an attempt to ‘harm, harass or annoy’ one of the hospital’s physicians”. The files included the medical record numbers of the patients affected, although no patient names were disclosed. Continue reading