FLINT, MI — A Shiawassee County woman is suing Baker College after she claims she was kicked out of the school’s nursing program because she questioned lessons she claims encouraged students to lie to patients in order to get them vaccinated.
Nichole Rolfe filed the lawsuit Monday, April 6, in Genesee Circuit Court on claims an instructor at the private school’s Owosso campus told students to threaten and panic patients into immunizations. Rolfe’s October 2013 dismissal from the program came 20 weeks before she was set to graduate.
“She stated that we would go in there if they declined and then we would use threats to coerce them,” Rolfe said of the instructor’s lesson. The threats could include, “You’re going to lose your Medicaid and if you lose your Medicaid because you refuse the vaccine you will have to pay for your entire hospital stay,” she claims.
The lesson, Rolfe claimed, came two days after another instructor told her that she had to tell potential new fathers that they were to be vaccinated against a number of diseases, including whooping cough, immediately before they could be allowed on the hospital floor with newborn babies.
The vaccinations would do little to protect the newborns because they would not have taken effect by the time the fathers interacted with the babies, Rolfe claimed.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that everyone who comes in contact with newborns, including parents, be up-to-date on their vaccinations at least two weeks before coming in close contact with the infant.
Rolfe said she questioned both instructors, trying to understand the rationale behind the two lessons that she believed went against how they were previously taught to inform patients.
“I was asking questions that a nursing student should ask,” Rolfe said.
But the school claimed that Rolfe was overly aggressive and disruptive and it was for that reason she was removed from the program.
A dismissal contract the school drafted, which was filed with the lawsuit as evidence, claimed that Rolfe continuously argued with the instructor about a personal belief regarding immunizations and that several attempts were made to move forward with training but Rolfe kept bringing up the same argument.
The contract also cited “persistent, aggressive, oppositional behavior” by Rolfe as a reason for dismissal.
Baker has not yet been served with the lawsuit and school officials declined to comment on any possible pending litigation.
Rolfe denied acting out while questioning the instructors, saying that her questions sought clarification and were typical for a nursing class. She also denied that she was against vaccinations or that she didn’t want people inoculated.
“This goes against the patient’s right to informed consent,” Rolfe said. “Our job is to build trust with the family and patient. We are to educate this patient.”
Rolfe’s attorney, Hemlock-based Philip L. Ellison, said the alleged lessons from the instructors could have put his client in trouble with the law. Ellison explained that using fake or threatening information to force someone into receiving a medical treatment, such as an inoculation, would likely constitute an assault and battery.
Her dismissal as a student came after Rolfe was placed on a June 10, 2013, behavior contract with the school due to an interaction with another student regarding a conversation about homosexuality.
Rolfe claimed that she told the student that it wasn’t the place of potential nurses to judge others and that she disagreed with the other student’s view that homosexuality is a learned behavior.
The student complained to the nursing program’s directors, claiming that she felt harassed by Rolfe for her stance on homosexuality, according to the lawsuit.
The behavior contract, which is also included in the lawsuit as evidence, claims that Rolfe continued to make inappropriate, harassing comments toward another student.
Rolfe denied harassing the student.
The lawsuit is seeking more than $25,000 in damages and is asking the school to remove the dismissal from Rolfe’s school record. Rolfe said she is unable to enroll at any other nursing schools due to the black mark on her Baker transcript.
No court dates have been scheduled in the case.
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