Nursing impersonators discovered in Medford

The state Board of Nursing has disciplined two Medford residents for impersonating nurses.

Nursing board investigators determined Sheri Dawn Engler, 50, presented herself as a "licensed psychiatric nurse with a history in clinical psychology" on her Web site and advertised her services as a psychiatric nurse on Craigslist. Investigators found Alonzo Mattison III, 40, used the nursing license number of a former spouse on an application to renew the license of his adult foster home in Medford. Mattison also used a license number for a nursing assistant's certificate he received in California on that same Oregon application, investigators said.

Although Engler and Mattison were disciplined within the space of two months, nurse imposters generally are quite rare, according to Barbara Holtry, communications manager for the Oregon State Board of Nursing. Holtry said nurse imposters usually are discovered in connection with trying to use a false nursing credential to bolster their qualifications in some other endeavor.

"It's incredibly rare," she said, to find someone actually working as a nurse in a patient-care setting such as a hospital or a doctor's office. Medical offices and hospitals typically verify the credentials of nurses before they're hired.

Engler agreed to pay a $1,000 fine and to cease using any title, abbreviation, card or device that would indicate she is licensed to practice nursing in the state of Oregon.

Engler, who now is a psychic medium, said she worked as a psychiatric technician 17 years ago in California, but did become licensed in Oregon. She said she did not intend to portray herself as a nurse on her Web site or Craigslist.

"Once you do that (nursing), you feel like it's part of what you are," she said.

She said the charges against her were "ridiculous," and the fine was "just a way for the nursing board to get money." She said she agreed to pay the $1,000 fine to close the matter, rather than hire a lawyer to fight the charges and face a fine of $5,000.

"I am not a scammer, and I am not trying to portray myself as a nurse," she said.

The nursing board ordered Mattison to pay a $5,000 fine, and he has been charged in Jackson County Circuit Court with practicing nursing without a license, a class B misdemeanor. Court records show he pleaded not guilty on June 16. A trial date has not been set.

Efforts to reach Mattison were unsuccessful. He has 60 days from issuance of the order on July 16 to request reconsideration of the fine.

Public records show investigators determined Mattison had presented himself as a registered nurse in correspondence with state Senior Services officials who regulate adult foster homes. Investigators also determined he had never been licensed as a practical nurse or registered nurse or nursing assistant in Oregon, and that he does not possess a degree, diploma or any other certificate of completion from a nursing education program.

Mattison's adult foster home, Joyful Living, at 3381 Cadet Drive, was closed Jan. 16, said Kathie Young, the Department of Human Services' local district manager for seniors and people with disabilities. Young said the closure was related to concerns about whether residents were getting appropriate care.

DHS immediately suspended Mattison's license. He did not request a hearing, and the home remains closed.

Young said Jackson and Josephine counties have about 240 adult foster homes, of which some 150 are commercial enterprises. The others mostly are in-home arrangements to provide care for an individual family member or a close friend. She said 10 commercial foster homes have lost their licenses during the past 18 months over care issues. Some licenses, including Mattison's, were suspended immediately; others were revoked or not renewed after a lengthy DHS investigation.

"There's a lot of due process that has to happen," Young said.

Reach reporter Bill Kettler at 776-4492 or e-mail

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