Area hospital fires RN accused of assaulting 2 patients


Published: Sunday, May 1, 2005 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Saturday, April 30, 2005 at 10:53 p.m.
Hospital fires RN charged in assaults at other hospital
A Gainesville registered nurse arrested Friday after allegations he sexually assaulted two patients while working at Shands Rehabilitation Center last year has been fired from his most recent employer, North Florida Regional Medical Center, officials said Saturday.
Wade Eldon Smith, 44, was let go from North Florida one day after Alachua County Sheriff's deputies arrested him on charges of assaulting two patients at Shands between October and December.
Jane Inouye, director of marketing and public relations at the regional medical center, provided few details about the decision to fire Smith.
"He's been a wonderful employee. He worked with one of our teams of nurses, working with patients," Inouye said, noting there had been no reports of lewd conduct against the suspect during his tenure at North Florida.
But following news of Smith's arrest, she said, hospital officials moved to terminate the employee nonetheless.
"He's no longer employed by North Florida Regional."
According to the Sheriff's Office, Smith allegedly had sexual acts with a then-15-year-old patient with multiple sclerosis on October 16. Then, sometime between Nov. 4 and Dec. 2, another patient was allegedly assaulted, this one a woman who had suffered a mild stroke.
Both victims reported being touched inappropriately by the suspect as he tended to them in their hospital beds.
Lt. Jim Troiano said deputies were made aware of the juvenile complaint following a tip to the state's Department of Children & Families on Oct. 18. ASO then alerted Shands officials of the allegations, Troiano said.
After the complaint, authorities and Shands officials conducted separate investigations into Smith's activities. The 11-year nursing veteran was fired by Shands sometime after the hospital's internal investigation was complete.
Calls to Shands' communications coordinator, Lance Skelly, were not immediately returned Saturday evening.
It is unclear how Smith was able to secure a position at North Florida after being fired from Shands and while under investigation by deputies. Inouye said North Florida conducted a full background check before hiring the Gainesville man and unearthed nothing that raised a red flag.
Troiano said a Department of Health investigation is under way to determine whether hiring practices were followed correctly. The lieutenant also said authorities are asking anyone who may have been one of Smith's patients at either hospital and thinks they were victimized to contact Detective Sherry French at (352) 367-4165.
Greg Bruno can be reached at (352) 374-5026.

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