Fired Mercy worker speaks out, says he didn't abuse or neglect patients

He's one of the twelve Mercy employees who were fired because of patient abuse and neglect.

As we first reported last week, Mercy hospital is now at risk of losing its Medicare and Medicaid funding over an investigation that found patient safety is in immediate jeopardy. According to this former security officer, Mercy got to this point because a complaint driven investigation brought on by a former employee. All twelve are not linked to one situation. Nathan Roberts only talked about his case.

Before working as a Mercy security officer, Roberts was a military police officer. On paper, he was fired for patient abuse, but says that's not the entire story. That's why he was willing to talk on camera.

"I believe they were forced into firing us," said Nathan Roberts.

Roberts spent the last year and a half in uniform working for Mercy security.

"I have a genuine care for people. Helping people. It's a great place to do that," he said.

He worked the night shift and spent a lot of time in the ER. He has one bad mark from instance that happened back in June.

"He was obviously intoxicated. Stumbling. Mumbling," Roberts said.

He could smell the alcohol on the patient's breath.

"He started using inappropriate language. There's no policy or rule that says you're not allowed to use inappropriate language, but we like to try to keep that stuff out of the waiting room. I approached him. Very calmly. 'Sir, would you mind not using this kind of language?' His immediate response was very hostile. He said, 'This is America. I'm a veteran. I can do whatever I want.' At that point, I realized I should have just walked away. Instead, I countered with, 'I'm a veteran. It doesn't matter. You still have to act decent.' That escalated the situation which I understand was not right of me to do," Roberts said.

That's when Roberts says the man refused care and walked out.

"Per, what I've been trained, when somebody is aggravated and belligerent like that, you're supposed to escort them off the premise. So I'm following him about an arm's length behind. As soon as he realizes I'm following him ... he starts telling me .. 'yeah come on, come outside. I'll teach you a lesson," said Roberts.

Roberts called for backup.

"I have not laid a single hand on this patient. Never had any intention to, but the second time the patient comes within striking distance of me. He's were I can smell his breath -- the officer does a take down maneuver, a single arm take down, but he's not successful. I do my own take-down maneuver, which is successful. We get him on the ground. I felt like it was duty to step in and bring an end to the situation," he said.

After additional training this summer, he got a final warning. He thought the issue was resolved.

"So being pulled in and told you're being terminated was a big surprise," said Roberts.

Roberts says Mercy administrators are doing whatever it takes to secure funding.

"I believe it's a matter of state bulling Mercy," he said.

Mercy workers declined to answer questions on camera, but did issue this statement today:

While we can't speak to specific personnel issues, we can tell you that everything we're doing is to ensure the well-being and safety of everyone, including our co-workers. We must live up to our Mercy values of treating everyone who walks through our doors with dignity and compassion, regardless of how tense a situation may become.
Due to federal privacy laws, we cannot release security videos involving patient care.