The undisputed facts seem to be that a man met a woman at a casino. The man was 75 years-old, had cancer, and had recently lost his spouse of 50+ years. The woman was a nurse and needed a place to stay.
The man and the nurse worked out a deal whereby she came to live with him and provide assistance with cleaning, cooking, shopping and other household chores. He paid her a few hundred dollars a week and otherwise assisted her by purchasing her some clothes and other “necessities.”
At some point, the man became amorous toward the woman, and the woman (who did not share his romantic feelings) decided it was time for the relationship to end. So, she moved out.
All these allegations, and more, ended up in a hearing at which the then-deceased man’s children sought to have the woman’s nursing license revoked on the basis that she displayed bad moral character. The children succeeded in having the nurse’s license revoked at the administrative level, and that result was affirmed by the Michigan Court of Appeals.
You can read the published case of In re Shelly Ann-Marie Sangster, R.N. by clicking here, and you can decide for yourself, whether this is a case of a bad person who exploited a vulnerable adult and who deserves to have her license (which she no doubt worked hard to obtain) and means of livelihood taken from her; or alternately, whether this case is another example of gender and age stereotyping gone awry.
Too Much Unsaid
Maybe the problem is that I run into adult children who don’t like their parent’s choices all the time, and I know how irrational they can sometimes be.
In addition, I’ve learned to read these COA cases with an eye toward the facts that are missing – probably for a reason.
So, I read this case and wonder:
What was the man’s cognitive condition? We are told the children petitioned for guardianship. Certainly, someone did an assessment of the man in the context of those proceedings? What did those assessments reveal? Was the petition granted or denied? [I’m sorry, but it seems obvious to me that if there was evidence of cognitive impairment it would have been included (even highlighted) in this opinion.]
How old was the nurse? We are told the man was 75. Are we to assume the nurse was a significantly “younger woman” – so that the sexist “gold-digger” stereotype can be invoked?
How long was the relationship? One month? One year? Longer?
And exactly where were these caring children throughout this time? Did they have no contact with him? Did they come over and visit Dad while the nurse was living there? Did they flatter the nurse and tell her how great it was that she was helping out?
Maybe the nurse was engaged in financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult. But maybe it was a more like two people coming up with an arrangement that worked for them for a while. I don’t know but I have my suspicions.