The owner of a private nursing home has denied he "harassed" a nurse under his watch or suggested she cool down on a hot summer day by "opening the top buttons of your blouse".
Sean Kelly, owner of Thomond Lodge nursing home in Longford, rejected the claims during a four-hour cross-examination of his evidence against Mary Elizabeth Mealy, on the third day of her fitness-to-practise hearing yesterday.
Ms Mealy, aged 41, is facing being struck off by nursing body An Bord Altranais over a professional misconduct charge relating to her time as director of care at the midlands nursing home.
The charge relates to claims she secretly dumped drugs instead of giving them to elderly residents, and allegations she was drunk at work on July 22, 2012, both of which she denies.
Mr Kelly told Patrick Leonard, for An Bord Altranais, he employed Ms Mealy from January 2012 until August 24 that year.
At first, he said there was no issue with her work, and agreed she was “innovative”. However, he later became aware of “tension” among Ms Mealy and other staff.
On July 25, three days after claims Ms Mealy was drunk, they met for a review. He did not specifically raise the alcohol complaint.
However, one month later — after a separate issue of medicines allegedly being dumped instead of given to residents emerged — he fired Ms Mealy, later filing a complaint to An Bord Altranais over the concerns.
Under cross-examination by Ciaran Craven, defending, Mr Kelly was accused of “harassing” Ms Mealy and making “daily” comments about her clothes, appearance, and hair.
Mr Craven claimed that in July 2012, Mr Kelly told Ms Mealy “you’re getting a bit hot and flushed, why don’t you open the top buttons of your blouse to let in a bit of air”.
Mr Craven said these remarks and a reluctance from Mr Kelly to spend money to improve the facility were the source of “ill will” towards Ms Mealy, which he said is a reason for the complaint.
Mr Kelly said they were “totally untrue” and nobody has ever raised such concerns. He said staff had concerns over Ms Mealy’s disposal of drugs and made the alcohol claims themselves.
Under questioning, however, Mr Kelly accepted there is no clear evidence Ms Mealy was drunk at work as the CCTV coverage has not been retained. His original notes on meetings with Ms Mealy — on which statements to the hearing are based — have been shredded as “I shred all my notes”.
Mr Kelly said a phone he used to take photographs of dumped medicines on August 22, 2012, is no longer available — an issue Mr Craven said meant the images were inadmissible.
The case will continue on December 16.
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