Ex-hospital employee charged with harassing former psychiatric patients
A former employee of Alexian Brothers Behavioral Health Hospital is being held on $50,000 bail on charges she took confidential medical records and used them to harass former psychiatric patients.
Prosecutors say Michelle Morrison, 52, of Elk Grove Village wrote letters to former patients suggesting frontal lobotomies and threatened to expose sensitive medical treatment to the victims' families, friends and co-workers.
Authorities said Morrison admitted to Cook County sheriff's investigators that she stole copies of patient files from her former employer, along with blank letterheads, envelopes, mailing labels and other miscellaneous paperwork between February 2011 and June 2012.
Morrison then sent six fraudulent letters to former patients containing vulgar comments, along with references to confidential medical information and psychiatric treatment received by these patients, authorities said.
She faces three counts of forgery, a felony punishable by two to five years in prison. Probation is also available. She has no prior criminal background, prosecutors said.
The letters informed the recipients that electroshock therapy had been unsuccessful and that frontal lobotomies were recommended, said a spokesman Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.
Additionally, authorities said, the letters included threats to the victims of disclosing their medical information.
Morrison worked at the hospital as a senior account representative between 2005 and 2010. She took the patients' information with her when she was terminated on July 28, 2010, said the state's attorney spokesman, who did not know whether Morrison made copies of patient records or took original files or if she knew the former patients.
An internal investigation by the facility's attorneys pegged the defendant, authorities said. Arrested Tuesday morning, Morrison confessed to the crimes, telling detectives her goal was to embarrass the health facility for terminating her, authorities said.
Morrison's bail was set at $25,000 for each of the two charges, making her total bail $50,000. She must post 10 percent, or $5,000, to be released from custody. She next appears in court on Sept. 13.
Alexian Brothers, in a news release, pointed out that it was through an internal investigation led by the health system's legal counsel that the suspect was identified.
"The former employee was not in a clinical role at the hospital and had no direct contact with patients," the statement said.
The hospital is trying to contact former patients who received the letters.