published Saturday, August 20th, 2011

Chattanooga nurse suspended after police say she hit boy


by Chris Carroll
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Chattanooga police charged a home health care nurse with assaulting one of her pediatric patients for "acting out," but an officer released the nurse Thursday without taking her into custody.

Maxim Healthcare Services nurse Lori Gulley, 50, is accused of striking a 4-year-old boy as she administered home health care services to him Thursday morning, police spokeswoman Sgt. Jerri Weary said. The incident happened at the boy's home on 3535 Mountain Creek Road, she said.

Police charged Gulley with simple assault and issued her a citation in lieu of arrest, meaning she must turn herself in to police before Sept. 1. If she doesn't, a warrant will be issued for her arrest, Weary said.

When the boy's father, Shawn Winton, heard "a loud smack sound coming from downstairs," he called police and wanted Gulley escorted off the property, Weary said.

Somewhere in the middle of all that, Weary said, Gulley admitted to hitting the boy. It wasn't clear where she struck him, but Weary said the nurse "used her hand to hit the child."

Weary said the father described the boy as "inconsolable" after the incident.

Weary said Gulley wasn't immediately taken into custody when the incident occurred because she met all the criteria to receive a misdemeanor citation instead of a trip to jail. The criteria include having identification and "not being a danger to herself and others," Weary said.

"The officer knew the behavior wouldn't continue because the father wanted the nurse escorted off the property," Weary said. "She agreed to do so, willfully."

Sam Hixon, pediatric account manager for Maxim Healthcare Services, confirmed an internal investigation into the incident is taking place within the company, which serves 25 children in Chattanooga and its surrounding counties. Hixon declined to elaborate.

Maxim officials immediately suspended Gulley from her duties, he said, but he would not say whether she would be paid.

"I can't really say what measures will be or may be taken, but we are looking into it," Hixon said. "In general, this is not a common occurrence."

Hixson declined to discuss the boy's medical situation, citing federal privacy laws.

State records show no previous disciplinary action against Gulley, who received her nursing license in 1982.

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