New documents filed as a part of a proposed class action lawsuit allege administrators at a Vancouver hospital never sought government ID when they hired a now-notorious fake nurse.
Brigitte Cleroux, who does not have a nursing degree, worked at the B.C. Women’s Hospital between June 1, 2020 and June 23, 2021 when she was fired over her false credentials. Earlier this year she pleaded guilty to charges related to a similar scheme in Ontario.
A new filing related to the proposed suit against the Provincial Health Services Authority (PHSA), which administers the hospital, makes startling allegations as to how Cleroux managed to get hired under the name of another, credentialed nurse.
Fake nurse worked for months at B.C. hospital despite several complaints: court filing
Details of the filing were first reported by the CBC.
“Instead of receiving official government identification documents to confirm Cleroux was Melanie Smith, the Defendant accepted a photocopy of a personal cheque from Cleroux where she had whited out her name at the top of the cheque and hand wrote the name Melanie Smith, as confirmation of Cleroux’s identity as Melanie Smith,” the document alleges.
The document further claims that the employer failed to properly vet references included with Cleroux’s application, which allegedly only contained phone numbers and Gmail addresses, but no professional or business information.
Woman who posed as fake nurse faces new charges in Vancouver
The new allegations were among 31 admissions in the case that lawyers for the lead plaintiff had tried to get the PHSA to agree to ahead of a certification hearing for the lawsuit.
“We had hoped to have some admissions in place for the certification hearing. Those admissions were not made,” J. Scott Stanley, a lawyer for plaintiff Miranda Massie, told Global News.
“Those are the types of things we will pursue with evidence at later stages of the case.”
Global News has requested comment from the PHSA.
Stanley said there were as many as 1,000 people who were affected by Cleroux during her time posing as a nurse at the hospital.
The lawsuit claims that she obtained employment at the hospital using the name of a real nurse employed at Vancouver General Hospital, but who was on maternity leave. It claims the PHSA did not contact the VGH for information.
It claims the PHSA failed to confirm Cleroux’s credentials with the B.C. College of Nurses and Midwives, nor did it pursue the discrepancy when the nursing licence registration number she provided returned a different name in the college’s database.
Court filing says fake nurse worked for months at B.C. hospital despite several complaints
It further claims the health authority ignored complaints about her behaviour and competency while employed at the hospital.
“PHSA failed to properly review Cleroux’s credentials as a registered nurse and as a result hired her to work at BCWH where she had inappropriate and illegal contact with multitudes of vulnerable patients,” it alleges.
In its response to the civil claim, filed in June, the PHSA denied that it knew Cleroux was not legally qualified to work as a nurse in B.C., “nor should it have known.”
The health authority said Cleroux had a string of other false identities, and pointed to agencies in Ontario and Alberta she had also fooled.
“Cleroux deliberately defrauded and deceived PHSA in order to gain employment,” the response states.
“She defrauded and deceived PHSA with respect to her identity, work experience, education and qualifications using the name of a nurse registered in British Columbia and other falsified documentation and credentials.”
The PHSA said Cleroux’s claim that her nursing registration number wasn’t immediately available because she had moved from Ontario was not unusual, but that it had verified a nurse by the name of Melanie Smith was licensed in B.C.
“On PHSA’s review of Cleroux’s fraudulent resume, it appeared that all of the necessary qualifications were met,” it stated, adding it had completed a criminal records check, nurses’ college database check and reference checks.
The response also maintains officials diligently followed up on complaints about Cleroux’s on-the-job conduct.
None of the claims have been proven in court and the suit is slated for its next hearing in February.
Cleroux, meanwhile, remains in prison serving a seven-year sentence for offences in Ottawa. She still faces outstanding charges over her employment in Vancouver.