Health care assistant says she was never told about Nassar’s restrictions

FILE - In this Friday, Feb. 17, 2017, file photo, Dr. Larry Nassar listens to testimony of a witness during a preliminary hearing, in Lansing, Mich. The former sports doctor at Michigan State University who specialized in treating gymnasts has been charged with sexual assault. Dr. Nassar was charged Wednesday, Feb. 22, in two Michigan counties. Online records show he's facing nine charges in Ingham county, including first-degree criminal sexual conduct against a victim under age 13. Nassar had a clinic at Michigan State, where he treated members of the gymnastics team and younger regional gymnasts. (Robert Killips/Lansing State Journal via AP, File)

EAST LANSING, MI (WLNS) – A woman who worked at a practice with former MSU and USA Gymnastics Doctor Larry Nassar says she wasn’t informed about restrictions placed upon him by MSU. That’s despite a letter from the university that suggests she should have been told.

The woman, who wishes to remain anonymous to keep her name out of the controversy, worked as a “floating” health care assistant for Michigan State University’s Health Team. She was hired into MSU’s Health Care Assistant Float Team in November of 2015.

A floating health care assistant is someone who is available for assignment to duty on an as needed basis. They normally assist a practice when there are heavy workloads or fill in for someone who is absent.

The woman said she was never told that someone needed to be in the room with Nassar while he was performing intimate procedures, as required in a 2014 letter from the dean.

MSU says that letter, and the restrictions issued in it, are the result of an investigation after a patient raised concerns about the treatment she received by Nassar.

In July 2014, MSU’s Dean of Osteopathic Medicine, William Strampel, emailed Dr. Nassar saying the following:

  • “We will have another person, (resident, nurse, etc.) in the room whenever we are approaching a patient to perform procedures of anything close to a sensitive area.
  • The procedure which caused the patient emotional distress because of her interpretation will be modified in the future to be sure that there is little to no skin to skin contact when in these regions. Should this be absolutely necessary, the procedure will be explained in detail with another person in the room for both the explanation and the procedure
  • New people in our practice will be oriented to be sure they understand these requirements.

The woman said during one incident in March of 2016, she was in a room with a patient waiting for Nassar.

She said when Nassar arrived, he asked her to leave the room, leaving Nassar alone with that patient.

Because she was told to leave, the woman does not know if Nassar performed the procedure that required a staffer to be in the room, but she says she didn’t even know about the requirements until she read about it in January of 2017 after stories about Nassar hit the news.

Nassar now faces more than more than 20 sexual assault charges, several federal charges of child pornography, and civil lawsuits by dozens of women who claim they were assaulted under the guise of treatment.

The woman said she reported her experience to MSU Police and says she was interviewed by Detective Sgt. Andrea Munford.

Two weeks later, at the end of January, she says she was terminated.

The woman said a supervisor told her it was because of a note she left in the break room that contains what she admits was unprofessional language.

She said she was trying to stop others from eating the food she had in order to control her blood sugar, and that the language was no different from what her co-workers used.

MSU said she was terminated because she failed to pass her probationary period.

University spokesperson, Jason Cody says the decision to terminate the woman had nothing to do with the Larry Nassar investigation.

Cody said that when Nassar was given those guidelines, put into place by his supervisor in 2014, he was expected to follow them.

Cody said when the university found out in September 2016 that Nassar didn’t follow those guidelines, MSU fired him.

Due to pending litigation, Cody says he cannot comment on whether the health assistant was supposed to be told about the requirements or address why she apparently wasn’t told.

But in a letter to Nassar terminating his employment in 2016, Suresh Mukherji, chairman of the Department of Radiology, and Dr. William Strampel, Dean of Osteopathic Medicine, wrote that Nassar had admitted not always following the procedures set out in the 2014 restrictions.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to all criminal charges, and says he followed accepted medical techniques.

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