BREESE, IL — Clinton County has agreed to pay $35,000 to a Breese nurse who sued its health department last year after she was allegedly fired for refusing to tell local law enforcement which residents had tested positive for the coronavirus.
In the private settlement with Diane Kuhl, the county denies fault, liability or wrongdoing in the settlement. Kuhl worked as a part-time nurse for the Clinton County Health Department for 4 years. She was fired April 3rd, 2020, according to the lawsuit, which was filed August 27th in Clinton County Circuit Court.
The lawsuit stated that the Health Department’s former interim administrator, Sean Eifert (EYE-FORT), told Kuhl to provide names and addresses of COVID-19 patients to Clinton County Sheriff’s Department and police chiefs in municipalities so they could take extra precautions when responding to 911 calls. Kuhl argued that it would have been illegal for her to provide the information to outside agencies under federal and state laws that protect patient privacy and that she could have faced disciplinary action, including the loss of her nursing license. The lawsuit maintained that Kuhl was protected from retaliation under the state’s Whistleblower Act for refusing to violate the Illinois Medical Patient Rights Act and Nurse Practice Act and the federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Marion County Health Department hired Kuhl last fall to help with COVID cases.