New HampshireDepartment of JusticeOffice of the Attorney General

News Release

For Immediate Release
March 26, 2018

James T. Boffetti, Senior Assistant Attorney General
Chief, Consumer Protection Bureau
(603) 271-0302

Attorney General Resolves Allegation of Unfair or Deceptive Business Practices by Lakes Region General Healthcare and its Former Chief Nursing Officer, Patricia Strohla

Attorney General Gordon J. MacDonald announces that the Department of Justice has resolved allegations against LRGHealthcare (LRGH) and Patricia Strohla (Strohla) of Brownsville, VT, the former LRGH Chief Nursing Officer (CNO). LRGH is a non-profit health care charitable trust headquartered in Laconia, New Hampshire, comprised of Lakes Region General Hospital, Franklin Regional Hospital, and a number of affiliated medical practices.

The State alleges that LRGH recruited Ms. Strohla to become its CNO in August 2016, and prior to Ms. Strohla assuming her duties, LRGH learned that Ms. Strohla did not have a New Hampshire nursing license. The position of CNO requires an active nursing license. LRGH then improperly modified Ms. Strohla’s job description to allow her a one-year grace period to obtain her license.

Ms. Strohla began working as the CNO on November 16, 2016. LRGH issued, and Ms. Strohla wore, an employee badge that identified Ms. Strohla as a registered nurse (RN). LRGH listed Ms. Strohla on its website as a RN.

At various times during her employment, Ms. Strohla reviewed and signed off on LRGH policies and procedures related to various hospital administrative and clinical matters. Ms. Strohla identified herself as a RN in the signature line of those policies.

In June 2017, the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) conducted an unannounced on-site survey of LRGH in response to a complaint by a member of the LRGH staff. CMS cited LRGH for hiring Ms. Strohla knowing that she did not possess an active license as required by state law and federal regulation.

In response to the CMS audit, LRGH reassigned Strohla as the Interim Vice President of Operations and named a new interim CNO. All LRGH policies and procedures bearing Ms. Strohla's name were reviewed and approved by the interim CNO.

Ms. Strohla never obtained her New Hampshire nursing license. She is no longer affiliated with LRGH.

The State alleges that these actions by LRGH and Ms. Strohla violated the Consumer Protection Act. That Act prohibits any unfair or deceptive business practice in the conduct of any trade or commerce, including representing that a person has a sponsorship, approval, status, affiliation or connection that such person does not have.

Both LRGH and Ms. Strohla have signed Assurances of Discontinuance with the Attorney General to resolve these allegations. LRGH and Ms. Strohla were fully cooperative with the investigation and both parties deny any violations of the Consumer Protection Act or any other law.

Under the terms of the LRGH Assurance, LRGH agrees not to employ anyone as CNO unless that person possesses an active New Hampshire nursing license or is otherwise qualified to hold that position under applicable laws. LRGH shall further verify that all of its employees who are engaged in the practice of nursing have an active New Hampshire nursing license. LRGH is required to pay $40,000 to the State in settlement of the State's claims.

Under the terms of the Strohla Assurance, Ms. Strohla agreed that she will not seek licensure in any form from the New Hampshire Board of Nursing for two years. Strohla will pay $1,500 to the State.

New Hampshire Department of Justice
1 Granite Place South | Concord, NH | 03301
Telephone: 603-271-3658