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CBS 58 Investigates: Milwaukee Health Department nurse suspended after failing to properly care for lead poisoned kids

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58)— A Milwaukee Health Department worker was suspended in April after failing to ensure proper care for children with lead poisoning.

Documents obtained by CBS 58 Investigates on August 16, show Margot Manassa, the public health nurse coordinator for the city’s lead program, was suspended for five says beginning April 23, 2018. According to the documents obtained through an open records request, Manassa failed to provide appropriate follow-up care for lead poisoned kids on at least four occasions in December of 2017.

That suspension wasn’t Manassa’s first disciplinary issue. On September 12, 2017 Manassa received a written warning for allowing a set of twins, both with extremely high blood lead levels, to return to an environment that still had lead hazards.

Records show that in August of 2017, Manassa went to set up a “health fair” rather than provide follow-up care for the twins, who required chelation therapy, a treatment used to remove metals from the blood in extreme cases of lead poisoning. The warning issued to Manassa states, “The charts for the pair of lead poisoned chelated wins are; incomplete, illegible and show that no case management was conducted; no education to the parent, medical case management, health assurance, medication adherence was documented after August 7, 2017.”

The records also state that Manassa told a Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin employee that the home of the twins was clear “even though an inspector informed the nurse there were lead hazards.”

The written warning from September of 2017 about the handling of the lead poisoning cases was signed by then-health commissioner Bevan Baker, indicating he knew of at least some of the issues within the lead program. Baker resigned in January of 2018, after problems with the lead program were exposed.

Manassa also received written warning about using her computer for personal reasons in 2008 and a verbal warning for attendance issues in 2008. Manassa currently holds a valid nursing license in Wisconsin. 

Manassa is the second health department employee disciplined for the problems within the city’s childhood lead prevention program. In April, CBS 58 Investigates reported that the program manager, Lisa Lien was suspended in December of 2017.

The city began investigating the lead poisoning prevention program in January, immediately after Baker’s resignation.

On Friday the head of the city’s department of employee relations. Maria Monteagudo, told CBS 58 Investigates two investigation reports have been completed and delivered to the health department.

“The first one involving the Program Manager was delivered in full to the Commissioner on June 28th,” Monteagudo said. “The second investigation report involving the Supervisor was delivered to the Health Department on August 3rd. A third management summary report that includes observations and findings associated with the investigations is expected to be completed by next week.”

It will be up to the health commissioner to determine what action to take in regards to those investigation reports.

CBS 58 Investigates asked the health department for comment but have not heard back.

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