Your Booster Shot
thrived as nurse, without license
Anonymous tipster sank 10-year career
By TANYA EISERER / The Dallas Morning News
Printed on Wednesday January 5, 2005
Wayne Rhodes did so well as a nursing director at Brentwood Place nursing home
that superiors promoted him to clinical services director in July. And in his
August evaluation, he received high marks and a 6 percent salary hike.
Mr. Rhodes -- who worked for Brentwood on and off since 1994 until being fired
in December -- had a secret: He didn't have a nursing license. He never did.
subterfuge was laid bare in early November when an anonymous caller tipped off
the state Board of Nurse Examiners, said Noemi Leal, a nursing board
impersonating a nurse, Mr. Rhodes, 39, could face a Class A misdemeanor
charge, which carries a jail term of one year and a up to $4,000 fine, and
state officials say he could face more serious charges such as fraud, because
his job entailed signing Medicare and Medicaid paperwork.
Tuesday, two investigators from the Medicaid fraud control unit of the state
attorney general's office were at the facility investigating Mr. Rhodes.
are certainly working with them," said Melody Chatelle, a Brentwood
spokeswoman. "We turned over copies of all our paperwork to them."
whereabouts of Mr. Rhodes, who could not be reached for comment, are unknown.
Neighbors say he is no longer living in his Mesquite home, and a sister
declined to comment.
of faked nursing licenses are not uncommon, but background checks usually weed
out phonies within weeks of application or hire. Mr. Rhodes' case is unusual
because he was hired twice at the home and worked there for most of a decade,
all the time never having a license. Investigators and the nursing home say
they believe Mr. Rhodes forged his own way through the system.
Rhodes was fired about a month ago from his nearly $80,000-a-year job at
Brentwood, a sprawling campus of one-story brick buildings on Buckner
Boulevard in Pleasant Grove. One of the largest nursing home facilities in the
area, Brentwood can care for up to 360 patients and employs about 350.
how did Mr. Rhodes get hired and keep a job without a nursing license?
was missing paperwork, and some documents were forged," Ms. Chatelle
said. "We were as stunned as anyone to find out that he did not have a
license and terminated him immediately."
Leal says Mr. Rhodes' case indicates a breakdown in the facility's hiring
procedures. "I don't think they did licensure verification," she
state requires employers to verify that a nurse is licensed when hired, and to
ensure that the nurse maintains a license.
state officials have no record that Brentwood ever checked whether Mr. Rhodes
was licensed, Ms. Leal said.
the nursing home facility, everyone assumed Mr. Rhodes was licensed because
Brentwood officials say he was in charge of checking his own certification,
and he simply faked it.
in his well-kept Mesquite subdivision said about three years ago he bought a
nearly 1,800-square-foot, three-bedroom brick home. They say he kept the
recently repainted interior immaculate. He had installed new carpet and
told neighbors he grew up in Mesquite with his mother, two sisters and a
brother. He told them he had graduated from Texas Tech University. School
officials say they have no record of him.
say more recently he had been devastated by the loss of his brother from a
was a generous, caring person," said Tangie Perkins, whose family lives
one house down from Mr. Rhodes. "We asked him all the time for medical
advice. We thought of David like our brother."
had grown close to neighbors and Mr. Rhodes, Mrs. Perkins, Kelly Wells and
their families sometimes traded off cooking meals during the week.
used his pool and went to dinner together, during which he would sometimes
receive phone calls and afterwards tell them he had to go put IVs in patients.
Neighbors also said he sometimes carpooled to work with the facility's
Perkins, Mrs. Wells and their families also went to Las Vegas with Mr. Rhodes
in March 2003, where he won $10,000 playing slots.
hindsight, neighbors say they saw inconsistencies. For instance, he told some
neighbors that he had been married and had lost a child, but then later denied
having said that. He also told other neighbors that he could write
prescriptions. "You just don't know where the lies stop and end,"
Mrs. Perkins said.
said he had told him that a patient had died at the facility a couple of years
ago, and he had been worried about getting sued for malpractice.
Nov. 4, an anonymous caller informed the board that they had tried to verify
that Mr. Rhodes was licensed online -- where the data is available to the
public. The caller "couldn't verify him in our computer system," Ms.
talked to him directly on Nov. 23," Ms. Leal said. "He was not
cooperative. He just said he would get back with me later because he did not
have his licensure information in front of him. When I tried to call him back
later that day, he wouldn't answer his phone."
Dec. 2, she phoned the nursing home's executive director, Joyce Bonds.
couldn't believe that that was true," Ms. Leal said. "She thought
maybe we were misinformed. She was sure that he was licensed. They had a
license number for him, and it wasn't a good number. I explained to her that
she could not allow him to practice because we didn't show that he was
nursing home fired him that day.
the nursing board does not have legal jurisdiction over Mr. Rhodes because he
was not a licensed nurse. But officials are forwarding the evidence they've
collected to the district attorney.
to Ms. Chatelle, Brentwood hired Mr. Rhodes in 1994 as a charge nurse, where
he supervised other nurses. He was later promoted to a director of nursing,
supervising a whole building of nurses until quitting in 1997.
not clear where Mr. Rhodes worked before arriving at Brentwood and between
1997 and when he returned in 1999, although neighbors say he told them he had
worked for a doctor and at a local hospital.
Rhodes worked as a director of nursing for about $35 an hour until his
promotion to director of clinical services in July.
Rhodes meets and exceeds his responsibilities as director of clinical
services," says a copy of his August evaluation now in state hands.
Chatelle said Mr. Rhodes had little contact with the nursing home's residents.
Nursing board officials had a different view: "A director of nursing is
an integral person at a nursing home," said Bruce Holter, a nursing board
spokesman. "That's not someone who is on the periphery."
Chatelle said his hiring paperwork from 1994 was missing, but they did locate
his 1999 new hire paperwork.
criminal history check came back clean," she said.
licensure verification form lists two people as having conducted the check,
she said. Both people, one of whom still works at Brentwood, disavowed any
knowledge of it, she said. "We believe that he forged that verification
form." Ms. Chatelle said. "I think he's a very good con man."
Rhodes' case also prompted the nursing home to check the licenses of all
employees and "they're all current and correct," Ms. Chatelle said.
She said they will now check each licensed person annually.
overall record is not out of line with other facilities, state officials said.
to the Texas Department of Aging and Disability Services, Brentwood Place
Three ranked near the top of certified nursing facilities in Dallas County
with a score of 88. But the other two licensed buildings, Brentwood Place One
and Brentwood Place Two, received scores of 56 and 63, respectively. The
statewide average is 60.
how often do impostors get nursing jobs? It happens fairly regularly, Ms. Leal
said, but the fraud rarely succeeds.
they work maybe a few months to a year and get caught because of license
verifications," she said.
Holter said the board intends to put out a bulletin about Mr. Rhodes in its
are enough safeguards where employers can easily check the licensure status of
a person that they are employing," he said. "They can check either
through our Web site or by phone."
Perkins, his neighbor, said in late November that he told her the malpractice
case had finally resulted in him losing his job.
said, 'I don't know how I'm going to pay for my house and car,' " she
Perkins said he told her that he had a heart attack brought on by the stress
of losing his job. "Next thing I know, he's gone," she said.
a for-sale sign hangs in the front yard, although his antique furniture is
inside. His slippers are still on the front porch, and the newspaper is still
"I just can't help but think there was some reason why he felt like he needed to do this," Mrs. Perkins said.
Eiserer / Dallas Morning News
Tanya Eiserer / Dallas Morning News