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Nurse reprimanded by state for mental cruelty toward patients

In a disciplinary case addressing unusual mental cruelty, a licensed practical nurse has been reprimanded by state regulatory officials for telling residents of a care center St. Croix County they were experiencing their greatest fears.

In a disciplinary case addressing unusual mental cruelty, a licensed practical nurse has been reprimanded by state regulatory officials for telling residents of a care center St. Croix County they were experiencing their greatest fears.

In one instance reported to investigators, a resident who has a fear of basements was told by the nurse that she was in a basement.

Michelle M. Obermueller, 32, of New Richmond, was reprimanded last week by the state Board of Nursing, and her license to practice nursing in Wisconsin was limited to certain care settings and not in a home health care, hospice, pool nursing or agency. She must also take classes in abuse and patients rights and cannot work in another state without written authorization.

Obermueller's verbal abuse of residents was reported to an administrator at the Deerfield Gables Care Center in New Richmond, northwest of Eau Claire, last May, according to results of an investigation by the Department of Regulation and Licensing. During that investigation, other employees came forward with descriptions of inappropriate behavior, such as telling a female resident who does not like to bathe that it was bath time, and then laughing when the resident became upset.

Megan Corcoran, administrator at Deerfield Gables, run by Presbyterian Home Services, said Tuesday that Obermueller is no longer employed at the center.

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"We took immediate action when this was reported to us by our employees," she said, "and we reported it to the state immediately. This (Obermueller's) behavior does not represent what we are all about, and is far from the kind of care we pride ourselves on."

Copyright (c) 2010, The Wisconsin State Journal/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

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