There are questions about why the Colorado Nursing Board waited six months before suspending the license of a nurse who was fired from a hospital after he was alleged to have inappropriately touched a patient.
The nurse, Thomas Moore, was terminated from UCHealth’s Greeley Emergency Center in June of 2015, but the State Nursing Board didn’t suspend his license until January 6, 2016.
Today, Denver7 learned that Moore worked at a hospital in Nebraska using his Colorado Nurse License.
Both Colorado and Nebraska are part of a state compact that allows members to recognize the nursing licenses of other member states.
Denver7 also learned about a fifth victim.
Police in Scottsbluff, Nebraska confirmed a second victim at Regional West Medical Center.
Capt. Tony Straub told Denver7 that the department conducted two investigations and forwarded the case to the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office.
He said one of the cases occurred in June of 2013, and the other in March of 2014. "The 2014 case wasn't reported until 2015," he said.
That brings the number of patients who allege that Moore touched them inappropriately to five.
“The first time that situation is reported is when something should be looked at and action should happen,” said Karmen Carter, Executive Director of The Blue Bench, Denver’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Care center. “My hope is that the Nursing Board learns something from this process and looks at situations differently.”
A spokeswoman for the Department of Regulatory Agencies says the Nursing Board can’t discuss the case because, by law, it is a closed board.
Investigators say Moore worked at seven different hospitals in Colorado, one in Nebraska and one in Texas from 2008 – 2015.
- Northern Colorado Medical Center (Greeley)
- McKee Medical Center (Loveland)
- Greeley Medical Clinic Urgent Care (Greeley)
- Greeley Emergency Center (Greeley)
- Medical Center of the Rockies (Loveland)
- Poudre Valley Hospital (Fort Collins)
- North Suburban Medical Center (Thornton)
- Regional West Medical Center (Scottsbluff)
- Christus Santa Rosa Health (San Antonio)
Fort Collins Police learned about one of the alleged incidents in August of 2015, when a victim came forward.
According to the arrest affidavit, the victim told police she went to Poudre Valley Hospital on Dec. 24, 2013, for treatment of severe stomach pains and that Moore administered some Morphine.
She said she felt “out of it” and may have lost consciousness after she was given the pain medication. As she awakened, she noticed her hospital gown was open and that Moore was rubbing and kissing her chest.
The affidavit also states that three days later, Moore tried to “friend” her on Facebook.
Fort Collins Police then contacted the Colorado Board of Nursing and asked if they had any knowledge of patient complaints regarding Moore. He was told the Board knew of two other complaints from the Greeley Emergency Center. A board investigator told FC Police that Moore had been terminated from his employment after those complaints.
According to the affidavit, the first Greeley patient went to the hospital on March 6, 2014, for abdominal pain. The second patient went in on April 21, 2015, because of a severe migraine.
Both were administered a strong pain medication.
One of the patients reported that she was “sexually assaulted,” and the other reported having her chest massaged by Thomas, while she was under the influence of pain medication.
Greeley Police told Denver7 that only one of those two cases was reported to them.
“The incident that was reported to the Nursing Board in 2015 was not reported to us,” said Sgt. Joe Tymkowych of the Greeley Police Department.
Tymkowych said the patient who did report the 2014 incident did not want to prosecute.
When asked if police opened an investigation to determine if Moore had molested others, Tymkowych said, “At the time the incident was reported to us in 2014 (which happened in March, but wasn’t reported to us until August) we had no other allegations we were aware of that he had done this before.”
There are some people who believe police should have pushed through with a prosecution even if the patient wasn’t willing to go forward.
Former prosecutor Karen Steinhauser is not among them.
“To try to force somebody to be involved in a process that they don’t want to be involved in, I think could end up having a chilling factor on other victims coming forward,” she said.
When asked about the Nursing Board’s delay in taking action against Moore’s license, Steinhauser said, the system is set up the way it is to protect privacy and confidentiality.
“It’s a balance,” she said, “of protecting the privacy of individuals, where there may have been a complaint that did not result in any wrongdoing.”
But the former prosecutor added, “There needs to be a way of making sure that these people aren’t able to jump from one location to another, and continue assaulting women who go there seeking medical help.”
Julie Lonborg, Vice President of Communications for the Colorado Hospital Association, said there is a law that allows hospitals to share employee information without fear of litigation.
House Bill 11-1148, passed and signed into law in 2011, grants health care employers immunity from civil liability when they, while acting in good faith, disclose information known about any involvement in drug diversion, drug tampering, patient abuse, violation of drug or alcohol polices of the employer, or crimes of violence.
It’s not known if any hospitals shared that information with others.
Police are trying to determine if there are other victims.
Anyone with information about Moore’s involvement in other possible assaults in Colorado can call Crime Stoppers of Larimer County at 970-221-6868 or online at www.stopcriminals.org
Anyone with information about Moore involvement in other possible assaults in Western Nebraska can contact the Scottsbluff Police Communication Center at 308-632-7176 or Sgt. Lance Kite at 308-630-6270.