State college settles in nursing student's lawsuit

FLINT (AP) — A Michigan college has been ordered to pay a woman’s nursing school tuition after she was dismissed for questioning lessons she says taught students to scare patients into vaccinations.

Nichole Rolfe, 35, was awarded about $15,000 on Tuesday in a lawsuit against Baker College, the Flint Journal reported .

Rolfe sued the college in 2015, saying an instructor at the school’s Owosso campus told students to threaten and panic patients into immunization.

“She stated that we would go in there if they declined and then we would use threats to coerce them,” Rolfe said of the instructor. Rolfe said the threats could include, “You’re going to lose your Medicaid and if you lose your Medicaid because you refuse the vaccine you will have to pay for your entire hospital stay.”

She said that lesson came two days after another instructor said she told new fathers they were to be vaccinated for whooping cough immediately before seeing newborns.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends everyone who comes in contact with newborns be updated on vaccinations at least two weeks before coming in close contact with the infant.

Rolfe said she was kicked out of the program after questioning both instructors, saying the lessons went against how students were previously taught to inform patients.

“I was asking questions that a nursing student should ask,” she said.

The school said Rolfe was removed because she was overly aggressive and disruptive.

A dismissal contract by the school alleged Rolfe continuously argued with the instructor about a personal belief regarding immunizations.

Rolfe denied being against vaccinations.

“This goes against the patient’s right to informed consent,” she said. “Our job is to build trust with the family and patient. We are to educate this patient.”

An attorney for the college says Baker officials are “very pleased with the settlement.”

Rolfe’s attorney, Philip Ellison, said he plans to appeal the decision in hopes of getting Rolfe an additional $2 million payout for “the career she’ll never have” due to being dismissed.

If the appeal is approved, the case would go to trial.