coworker thinks she has the power to heal her own tumor

A reader writes:

My dad works in a unionized position in a public care facility where he and his colleagues work directly with the residents. His workplace is straight-up toxic and delivers non-stop drama. His coworkers treat the residents terribly, they constantly bicker and bully amongst themselves, they don’t always follow health codes, and don’t get me started on the protocols they’re breaking in response to COVID. Thankfully, our region has flattened the curve and we’re doing well in our recovery.

My dad also sees himself as an outsider on his team because he doesn’t engage in the same attitudes and actions as his coworkers. For many reasons, he hasn’t left his position, despite all of this.

Over the years, every time something incredibly strange has come up, I shared with my dad your advice: your workplace is toxic and this is not normal, don’t let this skew your sense of what is normal. But a new level of bizarre has come up and we just don’t know how to respond to it.

His coworker, Sherry, thinks she can heal people with her touch. For example, my dad recently complained of a sore wrist. Without asking, Sherry grabbed it, started touching it, and announced to my dad that he’s healed. Odd, but not why I’m writing in.

Here’s the bizarre and potentially triggering part: My dad recently found out that Sherry has a tumor of some sort on her breast and instead of seeing a doctor, she has been healing herself by cutting into the spot and “releasing the pressure” by letting herself bleed. She’s essentially practicing bloodletting, which is incredibly dangerous and not an accepted practice in modern medicine. It sounds like she has been doing this for some time, but we’re unsure how long.

How my dad found out is also quite upsetting. Sherry has been filming herself doing this and sent it to my dad’s colleague, Greg. Greg has been sharing the video as well — I’m unsure if he’s forwarding it along or just showing it to people. Either way, not okay. My dad immediately walked away when he saw what was on the phone.

Sherry went home sick a couple of days ago, letting the team be short and struggling to complete their tasks to care for the residents. My dad says she looked terrible — very faint and pale and thinks she should have gone home.

My dad is unsure about how to proceed. Does he loop HR into this? He’s worried about Sherry’s own health but also how this may impact her work, her decision-making when caring for the residents, and more. What’s the right next step?


On one hand, Sherry’s choices about how to treat her own medical condition are her own business and not something your employer has standing to get involved with, no matter how questionable you or I might think those choices are. That’s true even though Sherry recently left early, leaving the team short-staffed; that’s a thing that happens regardless of what medical advice people are following. (If she starts doing that all the time, that’s an issue for their manager. But it would be about the impact on the team, not about Sherry’s medical practices.)

However, is Sherry in a position to hear medical info from the people you serve, influence the treatment choices they make, or “heal” them with her touch? If she’s encouraging any of them to avoid medical treatment themselves or if you’re seeing other signs of delusions in the way she works with them, that’s 100% an issue your employer needs to hear about. Even if you don’t know for sure that’s happening, if it could happen because of the nature of the work she does, your dad has seen enough worrisome signs that it’s something he should raise with Sherry’s manager.

Also, if Sherry is sending coworkers a video of herself cutting her breast, that’s a problem on a few different levels, and that warrants alerting HR. If Greg asked for the video because he shares Sherry’s interest in bloodletting (there’s a sentence I didn’t expect to write), that would be between them. But it stopped being between them when he tried to show it to your dad and others. So yeah, HR.

There’s a larger question here, too: When someone is doing something dangerous to themselves, what is the right role for coworkers to play? Removing the question about how it might impact clients (addressed above), I’d say it largely depends on how dangerous the act is and what relationship you have with the person. Treating your own tumor (which could be cancer) by bloodletting rather than seeking medical advice certainly qualifies as very dangerous. But it also doesn’t sound like your dad has a close and/or deeply trusting relationship with Sherry where he could really dig into what’s going on (or just drag her to the doctor). What he does have standing to do is to say something like, “Sherry, I’m really worried about this. This could be cancer, and it if is, you’re putting yourself in a lot of danger if you don’t see a doctor as soon as possible. Please, please consult with a doctor before you decide how you want to proceed.” In fact, I’d argue that as a bystander, he has a moral obligation to say that. But beyond that and speaking to her manager and HR, your dad’s options as a coworker are pretty limited.

{ 196 comments… read them below }

  1. D3*

    I’d also be very concerned that Sherry is “healing” the people they serve with her touch.

    1. HannahS*

      Me too. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if she’s crossing boundaries with residents, who are incredibly vulnerable and often unable to communicate what’s happening.

      1. fposte*

        I’d also worry that she’s dissuading residents from seeking treatment, because she’s “cured” them.

        1. Librarian of SHIELD*

          That’s what I’m worried about as well. My grandmother is in an assisted living facility, and I can absolutely envision a situation where she or one of her housemates might say “I was worried about that pain I was having, but Sherry says it’s fine and she’s a professional, so she knows what she’s talking about.”

          1. BadWolf*

            I have more than one family member who need very little “medical professional” credential to stop taking medications or treatment.

            1. AKchic*

              Same. My grandmother is more than happy to believe the recommendations from anyone who goes to her church over the recommendations of actual medical health professionals.

              Example: “Karen at church told me about Viagra and said I should tell you that you should start taking it for your spine pain! And that I should double my aspirin intake to help with my shoulder.”
              Me: “Viagra is not for spine pain. It’s to get er*ctions. Karen is a 60 year old housewife, not a doctor. What did your doctor recommend for your shoulder?”
              “My doctor doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
              “Your doctor recommended an MRI since the x-rays show nothing, and you refused to move your arm at all in physical therapy. If Karen is going to pretend to prescribe me medication for a body part I don’t even have, maybe we can admit that she doesn’t know how to treat your shoulder.”

              But they are both praying for me, and that will do the trick for my spine and her shoulder (and any and all the other problems, real and imaginary).

              1. Tabby*

                Reminds me of the pastor that got mad because I didn’t let one of the alleged ‘healers’ of the church hug me while I was in an arthritic flare. Now, keep in mind that the lady asked if I wanted a hug, and was fine when I said no, because I didn’t feel well.

                He totally went all: “Hazel is a HEALER BY TOUCH. SHE COULD HAVE HEALED YOUR ARTHRITIS BY A HUG!”

                Sir. Arthritis is not healable under any circumstances, take several seats and be silent.

                One of the many reasons why I now refuse to attend ny church — I don’t like invasive, forced affection, and I like weird non-sciencey assertions like faith healing even less. :D

          2. Mama Bear*

            Absolutely. Given that she has influence over people’s health, the OP’s dad should report this behavior. She grabbed the OP without asking, and who is to say she wouldn’t do the same with a client?

          3. Charamei*

            Yeah. It’s not uncommon for people to confuse care workers for nurses, because the uniforms are similar and a lot of people are kinda hazy on what exactly the difference is. The difference, of course, is that the nurse is a trained medical professional and the care worker is not. Any responsible carer will say as much if someone asks medical advice – but Sherry does not sound responsible.

            1. DiscoCat*

              This! Pretty much anyone could dress in a light coloured uniform and most people wouldn’t understand the difference. I used to work for a company that used to flog mobility scooters. Once they had you in their nets they would offer “free mobility needs assessments” by their care staff- these were simply sales dudes from mobile phone and double glazing backgrounds, dressed in light scrubs. Elderly and/ or vulnerable people desperate to spend time out and about fell for this trick.

              1. Not a Girl Boss*

                Yep. In days of yore before I got a desk job, I was an EMT. And in my EMT training they taught us to always walk into a house with a stethoscope around our neck. Not that we needed one most times, but that people readily recognize a stethoscope-wearer as a medical professional, but often don’t recognize an EMS uniform. This is especially important for people with mental handicaps (particularly dementia), or who are calling us after a violent experience, because EMS uniforms actually look closer to police than medical, and that can sometimes escalate situations.

                There was some study done about it but the tl;dr is that if you put on a lab coat and walked around with a stethoscope, the vast majority of the population would believe any nonsense you spewed at them.

        2. Sylvan*

          I’d be concerned about that, or if her role involves getting medical care for people, deciding when patients do/don’t need medical care with pretty poor judgment.

        3. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

          Most residents likely know that Sherry has issues, to put it mildly.

          1. Quandong*

            Well, it really depends on who the residents are and if they have any cognitive impairments, or are very young, if they understand spoken English etc etc. I don’t think we can assume the residents have the same ability to realistically assess whether Sherry is trustworthy and ethical and complying with current medical guidelines.

            1. Zweisatz*

              And if they have the power to reject her “advice”. I mean she grabbed OP’s dad.

      2. irene adler*

        Yep! Not far-fetched. She grabbed a co-worker’s injured wrist -without seeking permission first- and performed this “healing” bit. I’m sure this wasn’t the first time she’s performed a “healing”.

        1. Venus*

          A wrist isn’t as problematic as a pulled muscle in my bum or… I’m clearly not a medical person as I can’t think of injury types in private areas of my body, but I think you can get my point. My wrist is one of the places where I’m least bothered if someone randomly grabs it. This ‘healing touch’ BS could get really uncomfortable really quickly.

          1. Kate*

            There are already videos of her own breast that she is sharing with coworkers, I understand.

          2. irene adler*

            Yeah, what’s to stop her from really being inappropriate with the grabbing.
            For myself, I dislike being touched. So my instinctive response would be to pull back my injured wrist – and no doubt incur more hurt in said wrist- before even thinking about it.

          3. The Grey Lady*

            Sherry definitely should not be grabbing a coworkers injured wrist. I get that it’s not the same as grabbing their genitals or something, but it still is a big No-No to me.

            One of my coworkers regularly wears braces on her wrists because she’s had surgery that has left her wrists weak and prone to injury if she’s not careful, so grabbing someone like that could potentially hurt her.

            1. Venus*

              I very much dislike being touched on any part of my body, but if someone touched me in some parts I think it would be classified as sexual harassment. If the place is toxic then HR might dismiss someone’s wrist being touched, yet if Sherry is likely to start ‘healing’ more private parts of the body then HR might be more willing to address it.

    2. Dust Bunny*

      Yeah, this.

      Sherry can do as she pleases with herself, for better or for worse, but I’d have serious questions about her judgment with patients, especially since this place sounds like it’s dysfunctional overall.

      1. Anonny*

        She believes in the healing powers of bloodletting. I hope she’s not stabbing the people in her care…

    3. juliebulie*

      And not even asking permission first. If my wrist were broken, I would not appreciate someone grabbing it. That could make things worse.

    4. Kiki*

      I think it sounds like this place is a nightmare generally, but in the context of what LW wrote in about, I think this is my biggest concern as well. I think bringing up Sherry’s “healing” and how it affects patients is the most important thing in the context of work. If she is just going around “healing” residents (and coworkers?) and telling them they are better, that’s a huge liability in a facility that sounds medical-adjacent.

      It is also concerning that Sherry and Greg are sharing images of Sherry bloodletting– HR should definitely shut that down from happening in the workplace.

      It stinks that Sherry’s unorthodox treatments may have affected her ability to be well enough to work that shift, but that’s not known for sure and people do get sick and have to go home– it’s really a staffing issue that this left the rest of the team in such a lurch. I do think LW’s father should mention privately to Sherry that bloodletting is dangerous and known to not be effective, but he can really only say it once unless Sherry seems receptive to his advice.

      Honestly, this whole place seems full of bees and LW’s dad should leave. I know LW said he had reasons for staying, but I want to say if any of those reasons are because he cares for the patients and thinks he can make changes from the inside, that’s just not going to happen when it’s this far gone. Staying is lending his credibility to an organization that honestly sounds like it needs to be shut down.

    5. JSPA*

      Yep. She has the right to faith heal, blood let, put ginger and garlic on, or completely ignore her own tumor. It’s painful to know that she’s doing that (you should not have to know) but she’s a consenting adult, and the law is pretty clear in that regard.

      She does not have an equivalent right to do (or promote) and of the above, to the clients. She also doesn’t have the right to force her coworkers to know about or engage with her body in a medical context.

      I’d also push back hard on “duty to tell her.”

      In the same way that telling someone that they’re [too heavy / too skinny] isn’t telling them something they don’t already know. People who reject modern medicine in favor of faith healing [using the term broadly, here] are not unclear on the concept that “you may have what the medical profession agrees is cancer, and be doing what the medical profession agrees is a dangerous way of dealing with cancer.”

      Duty to tell makes sense if you can see what looks like melanoma on a place on someone’s body that they’re unlikely to notice themselves; if you’re a close friend and know it would be welcome; if you sound out whether they’ve put thought into the issue, and find out they had not noticed; or some other circumstance where what you have to share is likely to be a) new information and b) welcome. Neither of those things are true here, let alone both.

      “I’m worried about you, and hope that if you’re open to it, you’re getting regular treatment, as well as your own treatment” is really about as far as you can push it. That formulation presumes the right to reject / to not be open to the option–and that’s a right that people have. You can punch a pillow, rail about the waste and feel bad on your own time; it’s not professional to put it on the person in question, in your workplace. Even if it means they’re likely to die a miserable death, much sooner than necessary. Cancer isn’t catching. You don’t have standing to intervene.

  2. ChemistryChick*

    My eyes are still three times bigger than normal after reading this. What. The. Eff. 100% agree that HR needs to be told they have an employee passing around videos of home done (!!!!!) “medical” procedures. Inappropriate doesn’t even begin to describe this.

    I know you said there are various reasons your dad is still in this job, but if you can at all convince him to start looking for something else, I would. This is beyond toxic.

    1. Altair*

      I know! My eyebrows nearly flew off when I read this. OP, I wish your dad ALL the jobhunting luck, because what a festering swamp of a place.

      1. NeonFireworks*

        I had a dream last night that my eyebrows both just fell off my face, still embedded in a layer of skin. Now I’m thinking that would be an appropriate response to this letter.

        1. Quill*

          I’ve heard someone say that their eyebrows crawled off their face before but I thought that was a metaphor.

      2. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

        Love this! Will be using this phrase often, as it perfectly describes my reaction to so many things in the pandemic, and before actually.

    2. Tidewater 4-1009*

      I know. I read it before there were any comments and the only one I had was “Wow”. Not useful!

    3. The Vulture*

      I’m pretty sure my eyebrows have been replaced with exclamations marks.

      I’m concerned about everyone in this scenario. This is bad. This is just not good.

      Greg I’m not sure about, I don’t know his angle but it seems icky.

    4. Maggie*

      Yes, this post should come with some kind of ‘Hold onto your hat!’ warning! Holy cats!! I’m stunned and all-around dumbfounded.

  3. EBStarr*

    So… If she comes down with Covid-19 symptoms, will she “heal” herself and then come in coughing her germs on everyone?! Seems like a public health nightmare, on top of being really sad for the woman herself.

    1. Lills*

      Plenty of people follow questionable medical practices and/or use prayer to “heal” themselves or others. It’s baffling but ultimately none of anyone else’s business. I’d be more worried about her preventing clients from seeking treatment.

      1. Ash*

        I’d argue the one time it is someone else’s business is when someone has power over another person’s treatment plan–dependent children, for example, or elderly relatives.

      2. EBStarr*

        Well, the way I see it we’re all in this together — always, but especially during a global pandemic. If someone follows questionable medical practices and thus exposes other people unnecessarily, it’s also concerning. Of course her preventing clients from seeking treatment would obviously be extremely concerning.

        Conclusion: it’s all pretty concerning!!

      3. Charamei*

        If she enters a home full of vulnerable people while carrying Covid-19, it is very much their business. She could easily kill them.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          Yep. As with anti-vaxxers, this is a situation where her right to swing her fist ends where everyone else’s face begins.

      4. Massmatt*

        I would agree, in general. Lots of people prefer things I consider “woo” in lieu of actual health care. But a few things jump out at me: She grabbed a coworker and performed a “healing”, which is a huge boundary violation. This makes me wonder if she is doing the same to vulnerable patients. And finally, cutting goes beyond “woo” and is a hallmark behavior of self-harm.

        We don’t diagnose mental illnesses here, but this is bizarre, dangerous, and disturbing behavior and I would absolutely go to a supervisor or HR about it. Or is there some kind of licensing board? IMO this is very serious.

        1. Not So NewReader*

          If she were truly into alternative methods of healing she would automatically know not to grab anyone EVER.
          And if she was serious about this stuff she would know to ask if the person wanted help first. She did not ask.
          And she would know to do the least amount of touching as possible.

          And I haven’t even gotten to the part about the videos yet. While I can get interested in some stuff, I would keep my distance from her.

          1. MassMatt*

            Yes, I’m sure “no TRUE Scotsman” would do something like that.

            She is cutting herself and sharing videos of it! This is nutty behavior!

      5. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

        I’m more concerned about her acting batshit with a vulnerable population. She doesn’t sound fit for duty, how can she possible be performing up to any standard? I understand the place is dysfunctional, but this person is a lawsuit waiting to happen. Residents have families.

        1. allathian*

          Oh my goodness, can’t this person be reported to anyone? Even if it’s a dysfunctional workplace, she’s still putting the residents at risk. If nothing else, the employer should care about the risk of litigation.

      6. TardyTardis*

        And yet if she does fall ill with Covid-19, will she ‘heal’ herself and then infect everyone else? Some practices hurt only her, but this is different.

  4. Miss May*

    I’m also curious if she’s doing this at work– blood borne pathogens are a serious concern, and if she’s now following the proper clean up procedures, she could be putting others at risk as well.

    1. Lynca*

      This. Even if she is only giving herself anemia that’s a huge deal too. Especially if they’re having to do heavy physical activity like patient lifts. She could straight up pass out.

    2. Anonnn*

      I was wondering this too.

      Wasn’t rage week last week? Or maybe the week before, they’re all blending together, but holy shit. She sounds bloody insane (pun intended).

      1. Sled Dog Mama*

        I was wondering a similar thing. If we had rage week earlier WTF is this week?

    3. fhqwhgads*

      Yeah that’s the first place my mind went when I was reading. I hope like hell she’s not doing it so frequently that she’s also doing it at work.

  5. I'm A Little Teapot*

    Honestly, the whole mess needs to be exposed. They’re treating residents badly, not following health codes, and breaking COVID protocols. I don’t care about Sherry. She wants to be a nut job? As long as she’s just hurting herself, let her. I care about the residents who are stuck in that environment. Report the whole mess to the health department or appropriate agencies. Bonus points for hitting the news.

    1. Sylvan*

      Yep. I didn’t say as much because I don’t think OP’s dad would be receptive, but yes.

      1. Anonapots*

        I think this goes beyond whether or not the OP’s dad is receptive. A significant number of vulnerable people are in potential danger. One person’s discomfort is not important here.

        1. Sylvan*

          I understand. We’re relying on OP’s dad reading and following the advice here. That’s why my advice was to tell HR and Sherry’s supervisor, which is a reasonable suggestion for someone who’s known this was happening and done nothing for who knows how long.

        2. blackcat*

          Yeah, honestly, if I were the OP, I’d be calling the regulatory agency and encouraging them to do a “random” unannounced visit.
          These types of problems get people killed.

          1. allathian*

            Yes, this. It’s already bad enough that in many places more than half of COVID-related deaths have happened in residential care facilities. Sherry’s dangerous and must be stopped, even if it takes the OP calling the regulatory agency.

    2. KimberlyR*

      Agreed. This place needs to be reported to the local department of health, or whoever oversees care homes of this sort. Many elderly people cannot advocate for themselves, and this sounds like elder abuse, which is morally wrong (as well as being illegal!) Your dad can report it anonymously, if he feels he needs to. But he has a moral duty, as well as a legal duty, to protect this vulnerable population.

      1. fposte*

        Reporting is certainly worth doing, but I’d keep my expectations low for anything happening as a result. Oversight of residential facilities was already stretched so thin as to be cosmetic in much of the country even before COVID.

        1. Cobol*

          This. My mother-in-law works at a place like this, and it’s pretty impossible to staff. Since they need a certain number of people there, if somebody doesn’t show up they just mandate the person already there. MIL has worked 36 hours over two days twice.

          OP’s dad may not want to report because it will just mean more work for him, and even everything described, Sherry may stop give better care than others.

        2. KimberlyR*

          I absolutely agree that it might not change anything. But if the LW’s dad is a mandatory reporter (and I would be surprised if he isn’t) and something does actually happen to this facility down the road, will he be in legal trouble for knowing about issues and not reporting them? It is the right thing to do, but its also a CYA move.

          1. automaticdoor*

            I’m sure he is a mandatory reporter. I would call the local long-term care ombudsman for advice, OP.

        3. Myrin*

          For whatever it’s worth, a report like that actually happened in my municipality as recently as five or six weeks ago and it was a HUGE deal (I, for one, was not surprised by that in the least – my mum’s good friend worked there years ago and often recounted the disastrous conditions, and the facility itself just have a horrible reputation among the locals). The neglect and questionable practices actually came to light because of Covid because there was an outbreak and the whole facility had to be isolated. The state sent the actual army (dunno about the US but here, they’re who gets sent to help in times of immense crises), the paper was full of it, the bosses responsible for the facility fled (and are, as far as I know, still on the run with police searching for them), and the district office built some kind of special “task force” or whatever it’s called who spent the last weeks dealing with nothing else but investigating and clearing the chaos up.

          Of course, I’m not in the US with very different systems (both regarding health facilities and the handling of Covid), but I will say that our oversight over these facilities is stretched very thin also and yet this became a really big deal. OP’s dad shouldn’t count on anything happening, but I absolutely concur that it’s worth it.

    3. AnotherAlison*

      I don’t think OP’s dad can win here. He doesn’t want to leave or put his job at risk. No one is managing now–what do we think will change if Sherry (and Greg) are reported? (Greg shouldn’t be sharing pics of Sherry, right?) It would be good to report the facility to the authorities, but I can understand why he might not want to do that. Sherry is off, but Steve Jobs didn’t follow traditional treatment for cancer initially. That’s not the problem. It’s only the job-related piece that’s the problem.

      1. AnotherAlison*

        Rereading. . .this is a unionized place, so perhaps the union is another avenue he can go through, or it would at least offer protection if he was to whistleblow this.

        1. Observer*

          Either that, or the union will protect Sherry.

          If this is a good union they will protect Dad and let the place deal appropriately with Sherry. If they are not such a good union they will protect Sherry to the nth degree.

      2. pancakes*

        Working at a care facility notorious for treating residents terribly is not without career risk.

        1. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

          You’d be surprised. In some of these places, especially among paraprofessionals, there’s a really strong anti-snitching culture that would probably extend to discussing anything about this with a supervisor or HR.

          1. pancakes*

            Regardless of whatever culture they have amongst themselves, if it becomes public that the facility treats its residents terribly and/or that it has a worker who believes herself to be a faith healer, his career isn’t guaranteed to be unscathed. One concerned visitor, one distressing call to a family member, one shambolic audit, etc., could lead to their culture becoming known to the wider world. Even if their internal culture is thoroughly warped, they’re not sealed off from the rest of us, whose standards aren’t the same.

      3. Caroline Bowman*

        Yeah, Steve didn’t, did he?

        He might not be the best example to give someone who is into woo. Bob Marley is another tragic example of magical thinking being very dangerous BUT Sherry clearly thinks she has healing powers, has demonstrated real lack of boundaries around grabbing people and also sharing videos of her bloodletting her breast…


        Definitely speak to a manager or whoever seems most sensible about this. At least they can say that there is a video doing the rounds of her self-harming and what’s up with that?

      4. Gazebo Slayer*

        Steve Jobs wasn’t a direct care worker, though! Sherry’s delusions directly endanger not only her, but also the vulnerable people placed in her care. She’s only one of the many problems with this facility, but she still needs to be gone.

        (I don’t have high hopes for correcting her behavior. People who do this sort of thing and go around evangelizing about it, like Sherry, usually just try to be sneakier if they get told to stop.)

    4. Observer*

      Well, the problem, as outlined by Allison and other posters, is that she DOES potentially present a significant threat to the people around her. And that includes the residents. So while I agree that the whole mess really should be exposed, this is a specific problem that needs to be dealt with regardless of what else is done.

    5. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

      I went through something similar with my father’s hospice agency and, oddly enough, we never would have discovered all the violations if they hadn’t discharged him from their care.

      I hit up the Google and found that a large corporation actually owns the agency. After calling the agency and being told that the care manager didn’t have a supervisor (she did, she just didn’t want me talking to her supervisor) I called the Large Corporation. Got their Compliance Department on the phone. I started laying out my case to the lady in Compliance (discharged without ever being seen by a doctor, care transferred from one team to another for no reason, taking my father’s equipment before we could replace it, giving us less than 3 hours to make arrangements for replacement equipment, etc.) and every time I told her something she would say something along the lines of “Oh that’s not supposed to be happening” or “Those calls are supposed to be made at least once per week!”

      Long story short, my complaints were confirmed by my mom and they were serious enough that this situation was kicked up to the Executive Board for investigation and remediation. It turned out that this new “team” my dad was transferred to was being used a “clearing house” to get patients off of hospice care. That whole team was disbanded and either fired or sent to another team and a whole new team was put in place. The lady in Compliance used the term “rogue” when describing that team.

      I guess my point is YES, this needs to be kicked further up the food chain. If it were me, I’d find out who owns this facility and, since patient care is involved, they MUST have a compliance department. Get them on the horn. Lay out the case to them. See what they have to say.

      (One of the worst things was that my dad had never been seen by a hospice doctor, yet a certain doctor said my dad didn’t need hospice care any longer. The person I spoke w/who wouldn’t tell me the name of her supervisor gave me the name of a completely different doctor, one who NEVER had any responsibility for my dad’s care. I was all set to file a complaint with my state’s agency against this doctor…..who, it turned out was innocent of anything. I almost filed a complaint against the license of a doctor who had nothing to do with it, all because this person (her name was Karen, seriously, so I now call her Internet Karen) tossed his name out there. That act got Karen fired.)

      1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

        “find out who owns this facility”

        Some of the care facilities that got busted for having the most shameful patient care practices during COVID turned out to be public-owned and run by the city, state, or federal government. Whistleblowers were fired and I think some had their licenses threatened.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

          Hopefully, this facility isn’t public-owned. But even if it is, they’ve got to have someone/some department handling compliance.

      2. Caroline Bowman*

        what a terrifyingly dreadful thing for your family to have gone through and you are to be commended in thoroughly and comprehensively following up at what must have been a desperate time for all of you.

        Good plan, get hold of the owners / compliance people. They will be very interested indeed in what is going on and the potential for serious danger / liability.

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

          This just happened. Dad was discharged in early June, and on June 9 I started complaining. I have a bit of a reputation around here for not putting up with BS.

          Gotta go up the food chain to find folks who care, but there ARE people who care. It just takes time to find them. I’m sure there is someone at this facility or the company that owns this facility that would be appalled. Just gotta find that person.

      3. Massmatt*

        Wow, how terrible. I have some experience with arranging hospice care and the sections where you mention there was a group to get them out of hospice, and a doctor (“doctor”?) who claimed someone didn’t need it anymore are horrifying and bizarre. Hospice care is for pain relief at the end of life, barring death or miracle cures how could someone “not need it anymore”? I hope people were not just fired, but fined, banned from the industry, and jailed!

        1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

          Well, what got me was that this doctor was making medical decisions and determinations about patients/patient care and he had NEVER seen my dad. His nurse, who is totally awesome, was advocating for my dad to stay in hospice care. The doctor (who, again, never even laid eyes on my dad–wouldn’t know him if he hit him with a bus) said that my dad wasn’t going to die within the next six months and didn’t need hospice care.

          We found out (from his nurse) that she had five patients living in the same community as my parents. About six weeks before he was thrown out of hospice care, they switched two of these patients (my dad and another gentleman) over to this other team. Their care went straight to hell and this was when all the violations started. And then they discharged them. When I spoke w/compliance, they agreed with me that it sounded like they were using this new team as a clearinghouse.

          My dad was not readmitted to hospice care, but if my actions helped even ONE family avoid the problems me and my parents have dealt with, then it’s all worth it. Mom and I are doing our best for my dad, though their insurance company is NOT cooperating (they wouldn’t send him oxygen). We are just doing the best we can at this point.

          But I’m glad I got mad and started making phone calls. There were problems but they have been brought to light and are being addressed.

          1. MassMatt*

            That is such a shame, hospice care done right can be an excellent option, especially home-based.

            What do you think the purpose was of this “doctor” evicting people from the hospice? Was it some sort of power trip, or a financial scam? Was he taking insurance money up front and then not providing the services? It’s just so strange.

            1. Destroyer of Worlds, Empress of Awesome*

              I think, in the wake of the ‘rona, they were looking for ways to save money. And his original team had no problem with providing services. No one on that team was going to recommend discharge. So they switched him and some other folks to this other team whose sole purpose seems to be (to me, anyways) clearing off the books.

              Since you have experience with hospice, tell me if this makes any sense to you. The teams are divided up by counties and the second team handled a completely different county than my father resides in. When I inquired about this with Karen, she said “oh we’ve rearranged things and now the teams are divided up by zip codes.” Even if that were true, why would you change up someone’s care (essentially) right in the middle???? And, if you were going to change up someone’s care, shouldn’t the doctor be required to at least SEE my dad??

  6. MPS*

    This is awful all around. I hope Sherry gets the help she needs. I worry about the residents she is in contact with – if she grabbed your dad’s wrist, what might she have done to a resident? I hope your dad can weather the gossip or find a better job elsewhere.

  7. Ms. Ann Thropy*

    Let Sherry do whatever she wants to her own body, but her sending these videos to coworkers, and attempting to “treat” coworkers without their permission should be reported to the boss.
    More significantly, employees mistreating residents MUST be reported to the authorities.

    1. Massmatt*

      I think the self-cutting leaps over the threshold from “do whatever she wants with her own body” territory to something that should definitely be reported.

      1. Observer*

        Why? Self harm is not reportable.

        And in a case like this, it’s counterproductive to even go there. The focus needs to be on the danger she presents to the patients.

        1. pancakes*

          Showing graphic videos of self-harm to coworkers is indeed reportable to higher-ups within the facility and to a relevant external agency or regulator.

  8. Bananasinpyjamas*

    This is a PROPER CLASSIC!!!!!

    So much to unpack. Personally I think it sounds like Sherry is pretty set on this practice and unlikely to go to a doctor. And to a certain extent, I don’t think your dad does have a moral obligation to say anything because Sherry’s medical ‘practices’ aren’t actually hurting anyone else (she isn’t an anti vaxxer, she’s not refusing to wear a mask, etc). If she would be open to persuasion to visiting a doctor or your dad was super close to her then MAYBE he could say something, but she is an adult and presumably she does know that standard advice would be to see a doctor.

    Having said that, your dad has an immediate obligation to go to HR because this sounds incredibly dangerous and also wildly inappropriate. If Sherry wants to do this then, you know… I think it’s weird but she’s a grown-up. But if she’s showing people then there’s a risk people will copy her and also it is HER BREASTS.

    IMAGINE if you were the HR person who had to deal with this.

    1. Fake Old Converse Shoes (not in the US)*

      This is liver boss level of potential classic.
      (Yeah… liver boss… ugh… sometimes I wonder what happened with him)

    2. Frank Doyle*

      I mean — I suppose we don’t specifically know how she feels about vaccines since it’s not relevant to this specific situation, but I have a guess.

  9. Sylvan*

    He should report this to HR right away. If she’s involved in patient or resident care, report to whoever oversees that. She’s not good for clients and her judgment is wildly off-base. She sounds as if she needs medical help immediately.

    There are some people who do energy healing who aren’t total nutbars. My mom’s one of them: she just has almost no education in science or medicine (very educated in other things) and an openness to spiritual nonsense. Even my mom’s Reiki interest is sometimes enough to come between her and medical care. This person isn’t in the non-nutbar class.

    1. Threeve*

      I know it would be an overstep, but if I could find contact information for someone in her personal life, I would reach out anonymously. This isn’t alternative medicine, it is seriously dangerous delusional self-harm, and someone who can actually intervene should be aware.

      I know and love several people like your mom. I might not notice right away if their healing energy practices slowly took a turn for the unacceptably high-risk, but I would absolutely want to know.

      1. nnn*

        I’d imagine if Sherry is showing videos to her co-workers, she’s also talking about it with people in her personal life.

        Also, I”m not sure that anonymous contact would have any credibility in the eyes of the recipient.

      2. juliebulie*

        It doesn’t sound as though she’s being discreet at all, so I wouldn’t assume that people in her personal life don’t know about it.

      3. GimmeGimmeGimme*

        When you know it would be an overstep, you know you would make yourself guilty of harassment. Refusing medical treatment does not equal self-harm, neither does engaging in alternative practices no matter how bonkers they may seem to others. She is not cutting herself open in order to harm herself. If intervention is warranted, anyone is obliged to do so.

        That being said, no sane practitioner, neither medical nor alternative, would treat anyone without their permission. If any action is going to be taken against Sherry, it would have to be on this basis. Telling residents that also other healing options are available might well be within the code of conduct and may even give residents hope. Requirement is that she does not sabotage or in any way hinder their access to medical treatment.

        As for Greg, if he has shown genuine interest in the videos, she is still all in the clear.

    2. Observer*

      I don’t think it matters if this WERE a religious practice. The bar for accommodation is pretty low. And it EXPLICITLY does not require doing anything that puts anyone in any level of danger. What Sherry is doing DOES present a danger to residents. Required accommodations also don’t include allowing people to physically force people into allowing her attempts at healing, so there’s that as well.

  10. Ellie May*

    I can only envison Sherry deciding she knows better, throwing a resident’s prescribed medication away and ‘healing’ the person herself because she knows better … um, HR … NOW.

  11. KimberlyR*

    Your dad owes it to the residents of the facility to ensure she is not actively hindering their medical care, or claiming to be able to heal them. Some elderly people are easily confused and very suggestible. If she has any way to affect their care at all (and the only way I can’t see that she would is if she’s in a purely administrative role and doesn’t interact with the residents), then she should be reported to HR. In addition to being morally responsible, she (and your dad) likely have a legal responsibility. Most medical personnel are mandated reporters, and elderly abuse typically counts.

    1. Jennifer Juniper*

      Or the residents may be scared to not go along with Sherry because they know she’s nuts and are afraid she could pull a Nurse Ratched/Annie Wilkes on them for disobedience.

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        Yes. I’m not elderly, but I have been in a psych ward, and there absolutely are nurses, doctors, and other carers who will punish patient “noncompliance” in all sorts of ways. I was denied clean underwear and humiliated in front of the whole medical staff. I also only took medication I hated (the side effects involved major brain fog) because I was afraid they wouldn’t let me leave if I didn’t. When I told the worst of the doctors that, he literally smiled sadistically at me.

    2. Not This One*

      Yes, this is absolutely the aspect that needs attention from workplace supervisors. I briefly worked with a woman who also had some fairly wild (and equally as scientifically unsubstantiated) ideas that pertained to our field, and which she was openly sharing with the people we provide services for in a way that could have been harmful. (Fortunately, as far as I know, no harm came from it.) When it was brought to the attention of management they dealt with it swiftly and, as far as I could see, appropriately. Hers is a name that I’ve actually filed away in the back of my brain for the past 7 years, because I would be unwilling to work with her again.

  12. Teyra*

    Oh, wow. I hope this one’s fake, because if not… wow. I feel awful for her, and everyone else involved, because at some point she may well end up dying with the knowledge that not only can she *not* actually heal people, but she could (potentially) have easily lived. And that’s pretty heartbreaking to think about.

    But, as Alison says, it’s possible she’ll try and ‘heal’ one of the residents too, which definitely makes it a HR concern. If she grabbed the dad’s wrist without asking or his consent, I don’t even want to think about what she could be doing to other people.

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      I’d feel worse for anybody she harms with her bloodletting (yikes). Or anybody who gets sicker or dies because she’s brainwashed or bullied them into avoiding normal medical care.

      I guess I’ve just heard too much about people like Belle Gibson, the wellness influencer/scammer who claimed she’d healed her own brain cancer with an organic vegan diet. (Tl;dr: she never had cancer in the first place.)

  13. LGC*

    …I was NOT expecting an AAM/Cults podcast crossover, but here we are.

    (Like, this is LITERALLY the last two episodes of Cults on Bruno Groening.)

    Honestly, the impact on her work and even the team’s work is probably the least important thing here. Not that this isn’t important at all – far from it – but…even if she were treating her tumor in a conventionally accepted way, she still might have to leave early sometimes and leave the team hanging.

    I can’t believe I’m saying this, but the big thing your dad can do is about Greg. Either Sherry gave her blessing for him sharing the video (which is very problematic), or he just shared it for his own reasons (which is EXTREMELY problematic). Even if – or rather, especially if – he shared it to mock her, as that might put religious discrimination on the table. (And if Greg agreed with her, that still doesn’t make it okay – it’s just that it goes to a whole new level of bad.)

    1. Gazebo Slayer*

      All question of religion aside, doesn’t the video also involve her bare breasts? SO inappropriate for either to be sharing with coworkers!

      (Also, hi fellow Cults fan!!)

      1. LGC*

        Like, the entire situation is messed up and I’m just trying to disentangle all the bad of it. But…like, IDK, the presentation is not sexual? She’s showing herself doing a “medical” procedure on her breasts. I don’t know whether that gets considered sexual harassment just because of where she’s cutting?

        (And yes, I know, breasts are usually considered inherently sexual. I’m specifically using the medical term because I’m afraid of tripping the moderation filter, which I might anyway. And…I can’t believe that I’m actually arguing with myself over this.)

        I don’t know, though. This entire letter is mind-boggling. Sherry is bananapants, and it’s likely that the trick she used on LW’s dad was also used on residents, which is EXTREMELY problematic. Greg is either bananapants or a massive jerk. LW’s dad made the same mistake I did, which was to initially focus on one aspect of the situation because the entirety is an eldritch horror of probable ethical violations (and the only reason I say it’s probable is because LW doesn’t say if their dad has seen Sherry try to heal residents with her touch, so I can’t be certain).

        In retrospect, I’d change my initial response to worrying about whether Sherry is doing this to residents and what Greg’s deal is with sharing the video (because it sounds like the video of Sherry doing faith surgery on herself is mostly being distributed by Greg).

    1. MechanicalPencil*

      Just when I think I’ve read essentially every possible scenario on AAM, something even more bizarre happens. Bloodletting? Healing? And I thought the witch cursing thing was a one-off!

      1. Gazebo Slayer*

        I notice the recommendation algorithm suggested the infamous “my boss thinks he is a Mayan shaman” post.

  14. The Gollux, Not a Mere Device*

    Does it make a difference here that Sherry isn’t respecting anyone else’s boundaries? If she grabbed an injured wrist without asking or even warning LW’s father she was going to do so, she believes it’s okay for coworkers who don’t know each other well to give medical advice.

    I’m fairly sure she’d say “that’s different”–but if LW’s father does want to say something, it gives him an opening. “Sherry, I care about your health the way I know you care about mine, and I think you should…”

    That said, the main thing is that I agree with I’m a Little Teapot–there are clearly health and safety violations there, probably HIPAA violations, and the residents lives are at risk here.

    1. WantonSeedStitch*

      Ugh, yes. If someone had grabbed my wrist to “heal” it while I was suffering from wrist tendinitis, I would probably have yelled very loudly in pain. That is very, very much NOT ok.

    2. LGC*

      Ooh, I like this! It actually sounds pretty sympathetic.

      I can definitely see that she’s VERY convinced she’s a faith healer, so I’m not sure how open she’d be. But the wording you suggested doesn’t pass judgment on her choices.

  15. Duke Flapjack*

    This was not what I expected to be reading today.

    We DESPERATELY need this to have a follow-up!!

    1. Not Australian*

      Yes. This is one of the most ‘out there’ letters for a long time, and it would be pretty disappointing not to hear how the situation evolves.

    2. Hills to Die on*

      Desperate is the operative word for the whole post. It breaks my heart and I find it disturbing as well. I hope whatever happens will lead Sherry to getting some real help for her medical issues and any mental health help that she may need (not diagnosing – just hoping someone looks at it).

  16. ADHSquirrelWhat*

    there’s a couple things about faith/energy/whatnot healing that matter as well.
    First, any decent person will GET CONSENT, not just grab people. The residents, because of perceived power in the situation, cannot give fair consent, so if there’s the slightest hint she’s doing it to them, it’s definitely a problem not just of the workplace. If there’s a claim of religion or something, that she is not seeking consent is a BIG DEAL.

    also, for the readers – believing in energy healing does not necessarily mean being a nut or refusing actual medical help. done properly it’s a supplement, not a replacement. Because why NOT cover all bases etc. (and in a lot of cases, there’s not that much objective difference between, say, Reiki and prayer. Both are beseeching an outer power to heal someone, so, y’know – please don’t write off the entire thing as nutters)

    As far as this workplace – YES, get HR involved. Think of the residents – are they getting the care they need? Are they being treated like actual people? That’s who should be the priority, and it sounds like they’re not getting that. Get SOMEONE from the outside involved!

    and yiiiiiikes on the filming and sharing!

    1. Charamei*

      Depending on the type of care home, some or all of the residents may not even be able to give consent. Dementia homes are an obvious example of this.

  17. MI Dawn*

    Unfortunately, how Sherry decides to treat her breast tumor is up to Sherry. On the other hand, as noted, HR should be involved for the potential elder abuse, safety issues if she’s cutting herself to bleed at work and WTF about sending a video to a coworker who then shows it to a bunch of other people!

    Side note – there are a few diseases for which bloodletting is still practiced – though we now call it something else (therapeutic phlebotomy). Like leeches, not all things are old wives’ tales. We may not use them for the original reasons, but they do have use.

    1. Remote HealthWorker*

      Bloodletting is an approved treatment for hemochromatosis, a condition where your body makes to much iron. My SFIL has it.

  18. LifeBeforeCorona*

    My concern is for the residents. I live in a province that has a disproportionate number of COVID related deaths in long term care facilities. The military had to be called in to help deal with the crisis. The fact that staff isn’t taking appropriate precautions is more troubling to me than a co-worker attempting to heal herself. If you can persuade your father to report the lax standards then the “healer” may be dealt with at the same time.

  19. Keymaster of Gozer*

    If I saw an image of someone else cutting into themselves I’d not be able to work for a while after. Seriously bad bad bad trigger for me (history of self harm). It wouldn’t matter if they thought it was doing them good or not.

    By grabbing people (especially at the moment!) and sending these images round she’s invading other people’s boundaries without permission. At the very least HR need to be told so they can pull er in and tell her to stop.

  20. Anon1*

    I’m a mandatory reporter in CO. If I became aware of a facility with the issues described by OP, I would immediately make an APS report and contact the Ombudsman for the facility. The residents of this facility are at risk. The OP’s father has an obligation to the residents. Each state has different reporting guidelines and critical incident classifications. Individuals who are aware of potential mistreatment/abuse/neglect/exploitation and do not report it are at risk of fines criminal charges. MANE is a special class of incident that all individuals who work with at risk populations are trained about. CO APS referrals are kept anonymous to protect the reporters. I encourage OP’s father to look into his state’s guidelines and take the necessary steps immediately. Coworker drama is the least of the issues in this facility.

    1. Persephone Underground*

      This x1000! Nursing homes are full of vulnerable, high-risk patients, and so anything less than 100% compliance with Covid standards is unacceptable. They should be taking extra precautions that aren’t even required if at all possible, not blowing off guidelines meant to save lives!

    1. Third or Nothing!*

      There are so many layers of wack-a-doodle to unpack in this one that I don’t even know where to start.

  21. Emi.*

    I’m really, really hoping that Sherry’s tumor is self-diagnosed and not actually a tumor.

  22. Amethystmoon*

    Does she think she can magically heal Covid-19 also? She’s risking other people’s lives by providing false info. The entire facility could be sued if someone dies because of her “healing touch.” Regardless of whether it’s Covid-19, if she starts “healing” more serious things like AIDS, cancer, etc., this is a lawsuit waiting to happen.

  23. Ginger ale for all*

    O.P., if you have any trouble getting your dad to go to H.R., just ask him if his parents were patients there, would he want someone with Sherri’s judgement in a patient caring role for them?

    And what is it with some workers at elder care places? My parents are in their mid 80’s and there are several positions in their place that are revolving doors for employees – the general manager, the chef, and the activities coordinator. Each seem to only last three or four months on the job. The chefs tend to quit rather than be let go though. The maintenance guy and gardener are the only stable and sane people there according to my folks.

    1. That Girl from Quinn's House*

      The work is hard, the pay is trash, the environment is toxic. Good people flee and bad people inevitably end up fired.

      1. A*

        Yup. My best friend is a nurse and *just* switched to hospice after working 7 years in an elderly care facility – she loved her job, but it didn’t pay well enough to justify the constant up-hill battle of advocating for her patients within a failing system. She had the opportunity to make tens of thousands more in a position where she isn’t getting yelled at all the time, blamed for systemic issues etc.

        Couldn’t blame her!

      2. Sacrificial Pharmacy Tech*

        This. I worked in the dining room/kitchen of an assisted living facility under a manager who only hired teenagers because she could treat us like garbage and get away with it because none of us knew appropriate workplace norms. I worked with 64 different people just in my department in the three years I was there. I was the most senior staff six months in. At freaking 15 years old. And I can absolutely verify crap pay; I made 76 cents more when I left than when I started. My manager refused to give anyone more than a 21 cent raise each year, and tried to find any excuse not to give us a cent. The only reason I was bumped a little more was because minimum wage went up when I was working there.

        And don’t even get me started on the nurses and resident assistants. They treated the residents like garbage too and had a revolving door of people, and I found out that a few of them had gotten hired despite having criminal records for assault. And nobody in the entire facility was drug tested despite it being a healthcare-adjacent facility; they would have had maybe 5% of their staff left if they had and people showed up to work inebriated all the time.

        When I put in my two weeks and told the residents I was leaving, a bunch of them cried and asked me who was going to care about them now because over 90% of the staff didn’t give a shit. I reported the facility after I left and it’s still around and doing the same crap 11 years later.

    2. Not So NewReader*

      The maintenance person and gardener are dealing with things, not human beings. They will tend to last a bit longer before they get worn down and need to leave.

      I should think the problems are not much different than any other human service job:
      low pay
      conflicting regs
      too many regs
      too much work for the amount of hours allowed
      can’t keep front line people (for similar reasons), so they are in constant training mode
      management micromanaging every single penny
      unresponsive management
      corruption among the higher ups
      expectations to donate your time
      harassment (all types)
      … wait, I am only getting started here….

      One problem I saw in human services is where the public collectively turns a blind eye. The problems are staggering and no one can really figure out what TO do. Management is considered direct care but they don’t even know the names of the people. We are using our hospitals as jails and our jails as hospitals. It’s not human and it’s not service. I can’t think of a more d@mning thing to say.

      OP, I think you see where I am at. I have to ask you, is this example here something that is like a straw breaking your father’s back? I almost wonder if you are thinking “Of all the stories he has told he is upset over this one?”
      I am inclined to believe this could be the case because he does not want to report it. That would fit with the culture some of these places have. If this sounds right to you, then all you need to really do is ask him, “How much longer are you going to put up with this miserable job?”
      I know first hand the types of retaliation that can happen for speaking up, it can go right up to death threats sometimes. First and foremost, listen to what your dad feels he has to do to keep himself safe.

  24. Not Me*

    I would seriously consider a mandatory EAP referral for Sherry. It’s not an employer’s place to decide if an employee is a danger to themselves or others, that’s for a medical professional to do. If I was made aware an employee was physically harming themselves without being under the care of a medical provider I would want a release to work to ensure they are not a danger to themselves or others in the workplace.

  25. Penny*

    I don’t mean to go down a rabbit hole of “what ifs” but I am concerned that she could accidentally bleed on patients. I have to think that anyone that is practicing bloodletting to relief the pressure off of a tumor would not properly close or bandage such a wound or could easily reopen a wound with movement or physical contact. If Sherry has physical contact with a resident and bleeds on them from a wound in her breast, that seems like a major health code violation.

    I feel awful for OP’s father but this is a nightmare scenario for the residents and their family members.

    1. New Jack Karyn*

      I assumed she’s doing the bloodletting at home, with sufficient bandaging. OP’s Pop didn’t mention anything about that, so I don’t think that’s of great concern.

      Lord knows there’s plenty of WTF present already!

  26. MsChanandlerBong*

    I would not be able to control myself around Sherry, so I am glad I don’t work here. My FIL just finished chemo for a cancer that could have been treated with surgery alone if his wife hadn’t been “treating” him with cabbage juice in the hopes that his symptoms were caused by an ulcer. By the time he eventually saw a doctor, the cancer had spread into the lymph nodes, so he had to have surgery and several rounds of chemo, which caused horrible reactions and landed him in the hospital multiple times. People can believe whatever they want, but when it starts hurting others or has the potential to hurt others, it’s time to step in.

    You’ll never get through to her, so I’d go straight to HR/your boss and lay out everything that is going on. I’d focus on the possible danger to residents (and potential legal ramifications) and the concerns about blood-borne pathogens. I suspect if you just focus on the inappropriateness of some of the other stuff, they won’t take it seriously (since residents are treated badly and it seems no one has been doing anything about that).

    1. sssssssssssssssssssssssss*

      No! I’m so sorry about your FIL.

      Tell me it wasn’t Jilly Juice. OMG…

      1. MsChanandlerBong*

        It was not Jilly Juice, thank goodness. It’s honestly a miracle he’s still alive after all the natural “treatments” he’s been subjected to over the years. For a while, he wouldn’t go to the doctor at all because she’s on a campaign against Western medicine, but then he had heart failure, cancer, and a whole host of other problems, so he was forced to seek help.

        This is why I know Sherry won’t respond well if anyone tries to talk to her about it. I’ve been in the same situation with trying to get my FIL the medical care he needs, but you can’t tell his wife anything. He was once hospitalized for a month with a raging infection that lodged in his spine and ate away several vertebrae, and she was there trying to rub oils all over him and put a heating pad on his back (thank goodness the doctor put the kibosh on the heating pad). If you push for real medical care, she gets defensive and goes on a tirade about how they’re all in it for the money.

        1. Gazebo Slayer*

          …are you sure she isn’t *trying* to kill him? My God.

          (also, *lolsob* at the idea that quacks who push phony remedies like cabbage juice *aren’t* in it for the money)

  27. Cordoba*

    I think this needs to be broken down into two parts.

    1) Aspects that are work-inappropriate or a risk to colleagues and residents. These include things like the video, the non-consensual wrist grabbing and “healing” session, and if Sherry is also recommending or utilizing these methods on residents. These should be addressed as work issues via normal channels.

    2) Sherry’s personal decisions regarding her own medical treatment, or lack thereof. I submit this is nobody’s business as long as she’s keeping it separate from work, and LW’s dad and everybody else should buzz of about it unless it is causing an actual work problem. Sherry is probably making a terrible choice; this is not her co-workers’ problem to solve. Colleagues do questionable and dangerous things all the time. Some people I work with smoke a pack a day, some people ride their motorcycle without helmets. It’s not my responsibility or place to try to correct them, why is Sherry’s quackery any different?

    1. hbc*

      YES! I was coming here looking for this. Sherry is allowed to believe whatever dumb thing she wants to believe and completely abuse her body as long as it doesn’t affect work, and her going home sick doesn’t count. I don’t want my boss deciding whether I’m appropriately treating whatever illness I have, or it coming down to a vote among my coworkers.

      I would come down on her for the wrist-grabbing, on Greg for the video-sharing (I don’t see a problem with Sherry sharing with a willing Greg), and make sure this wasn’t getting to the patients. But otherwise, it sounds like everyone involved has kind of lost sight of the fact that something being bizarre doesn’t make it actionable, and vice versa. Sherry *potentially* convincing patients to forego medicine for woo pales in comparison to staff *actually* mistreating patients, even though she’s a more exciting story.

      1. fposte*

        Yes, I agree. It is upsetting to think about the lack of judgment of somebody like this, but Sherry isn’t necessarily even the weakest link at this workplace (nor was the OP’s dad framing her as such).

  28. anon for this.*

    Just want to note, the LW referred to the workplace as a “public care facility.” That makes it much more likely to be youths, the mentally ill, or adults with disabilities. There aren’t a lot of “public” nursing homes.

    1. fposte*

      Good point. There still are over a thousand but they’re vastly outnumbered by private nonprofit and for profit concerns.

    2. Persephone Underground*

      I don’t think that makes it any better (not that you were saying that it was necessarily). Those populations are just as vulnerable as the elderly, if not more so. It makes me angry to think of my autistic brother-in-law, for instance, being stuck in a facility like this. (He’s not in any sort of facility right now, lives with his parents, but someday I hope we can find somewhere for him to be more independent, for his own quality of life. But with the risk of him ending up somewhere like this we’re very unsure if that will ever be possible.)

      1. Temperance*

        I think that actually makes it much, much worse, because those are folks who have little to no personal autonomy and are likely not competent to make healthcare decisions for themselves.

  29. Jennifer Juniper*



    Sherry should not be touching people at all. Her “healing” could be spreading COVID-19, not to mention other germs, all over the place. She should be fired if she’s touching anyone.

    1. Charamei*

      In a care setting we frequently have to touch our clients/residents to do our jobs (try wiping someone’s bum from two metres away!). As long as she’s wearing her PPE, physically interacting with residents should not be a problem. I’d be more concerned about 1. her disregard for their consent, 2. the possibility of her catching covid and refusing to self-isolate because she’s ‘healed’ herself, or 3. potentially convincing residents not to take their doctor-prescribed medications.

  30. The Man, Becky Lynch*

    Yikes. I would report it because she’s acting so wildly inappropriate with the videos.

    You cannot protect others against themselves in this kind of setup but you can protect the bystanders from being subjected to her desire to be sending out videos. Is that kind of stuff even allowed on YouTube? At work though… Damn.

  31. Leah K.*

    I think this is the first time I have officially been disturbed by an AAM letter. Like, I’ve gone “WTF?” before, but this is the first time I wish I could un-see what I have just read.
    Yes, this needs to be reported to HR. Sherry should not be “touching” people. Sherry should not be left responsible for anyone else’s medical care. And she most definitely should not be sending her co-workers videos of cutting her own breasts. I cannot believe what I just typed.

  32. Isabelle*

    Can we talk about the fact that Sherry is sending footage of her bleeding boob to a colleague and said colleague is forwarding it to others? Your father’s colleagues have collectively lost their mind. I hope for everyone’s sake that HR will address this situation (if only to save residents from Sherry ‘healing’ them without their consent!)

    1. Jennifer*

      I hope I’m wrong but I highly doubt HR is going to be much help here. They’ve already allowed an incredibly toxic environment to survive and thrive there for years. Someone was showing her breast video around at work. People feel safe doing that kind of thing when they know no one cares.

  33. Jennifer*


    That’s my only contribution. See if you can talk your dad into finding another job.

  34. Llellayena*

    It’s not 100% clear that this is a nursing home/assisted living facility from the text (“public care facility” could be a couple of things), but if it is a vulnerable population, there may be residents with dementia or dementia-like conditions who can be extremely gullible and could be convinced that the touch-healing works better than standard care. Having a person in a position of power or perceived superior knowledge over residents say that her touch-healing works is flat-out dangerous! (I’m not discounting Reiki, but if that’s what she’s trying, she’s not doing it right. Grabbing someone without their permission or enthusiastic agreement will not assist the healing energy.) She needs to be reported to whatever patient advocacy oversight person/committee exists. And the sharing of the video should be reported to HR, though how she handles her own care is on her.

    1. Observer*

      If this is in the US, the population IS vulnerable. The fact that they have been getting away with mistreating the residents means it’s a VERY vulnerable population. There is no *IF* here.

      1. ADHSquirrelWhat*

        Which is why I say there cannot be valid consent in this situation, as well. Which is important – “oh they agreed” is NOT valid when you’re talking about people who would fear to say no! (assuming they were informed of what they were even agreeing to).

        Someone has to look out for these people, because clearly the caregivers being described here are NOT CAPABLE.

        1. Observer*

          True. In addition, in facilities like this there are almost certainly going to be people whose cognitive situation is such that they cannot give meaningful consent. So that’s another layer.

          Yeah, this needs to be reported. Now.

  35. Sara without an H*

    OP, there are a couple of things here. First, yes, your father needs to report this, to the manager, HR, and possibly the union. What, if anything, they choose to do about the situation is unpredictable, assuming the place is indeed as badly run as you say.

    But you say that your father, although he feels like an outsider, chooses to stay “for many reasons.” Why? Does he believe that, somehow, he can “fix” this place or his co-workers? If so, it’s time to start gently asking him to think about what he believes he can accomplish in this flaming dumpster, why he stays, and what other options are available to him.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      Yeah, agreed. Time to step back and look at the bigger picture. I am sure this is just one story in a long line of stories.

  36. Malarkey01*

    This is one time I’d skip HR and go to outside licensing board in your area. If residents aren’t treated well and may be at risk from this particular person, this isn’t an employment issue it’s a vulnerable person issue. Anyone can make that call.

    Yes everyone is overwhelmed with CoVid right now, but the shocking details of bloodletting actual help here. When things are so far our of the norm they normally get faster attention. If they get a call about people not observing proper PPE right now they are going to think get in line I have 20 other cases, if you call about someone bloodletting a tumor you are taking notice. It’s also the thing media picks up on- they’ll say something like along with neglect or care and blah and blah practices, one provider was BLOODLETTING.

  37. Mockingdragon*

    Phew…I would hope to heck that Sherri’s opinions are kept to her own body. I would hope that when it’s looked into in more depth, she’s not doing anything to influence residents. But I would feel obligated to bring it to the attention of people who were qualified to look in and make sure because the chances of her doing so seem….high.

    Also, video of bloodletting her breast? W.T.F.

  38. NoMoreFirstTimeCommenter*

    So you mentioned a sentence you didn’t expect to write. After the liver boss and black magic as an occupational hazard, among others, I think you should expect absolutely anything. People just are so weird.

  39. Blood Metal*

    Quick note: “bloodletting” is now called Therapeutic Phlebotomy. It is still a valid treatment for iron overload and similar conditions. However, it should never be done without the guidance of medical professionals. My 2 cents.

      1. Blood Metal*

        I’m aware of that. LW said, “ She’s essentially practicing bloodletting, which is incredibly dangerous and not an accepted practice in modern medicine.” That is incorrect.

  40. Tiara Wearing Princess*

    This makes me very afraid for the residents. Please please please tell your dad to report this and to insist the residents be questioned about whether she’s done this to them.

    She has the potential to do some very serious harm.

  41. Wintergreen*

    LW please encourage your dad to go to HR and/or Union but something else to consider before going….
    If Sherry is practicing self-healing, how was she diagnosed with a tumor? by a doctor or self-diagnosed? There could be a lot more going on than just bloodletting or tumor. Ask your dad to really think about if Sherry’s behavior has gotten worse or more inappropriate over the course of time. If yes, can he think of examples to show that? Typically I’d try to stay out of a coworkers medical issue but if the inappropriate behavior has gotten worse over the last year or so I’d want to bring that up with HR/Union as coming from a place of concern for her physical and/or mental health. If the behavior is consistent to how she has always been, I’d focus more on the inappropriateness of her actions

  42. Charamei*


    I work in care. Based on the first paragraph alone, the entire place needs to be reported to whatever overseeing body you have (here in the UK that’d be the CQC).

    OP, you said your dad isn’t leaving despite not sharing the attitudes of his coworkers. It’s not BECAUSE he’s the one good carer that he’s staying, is it? I 100% understand the urge to stay and make sure the residents have someone on their side, but he would serve them a lot better by getting out of there and then blowing the whistle on the place once it is no longer paying his wages.

    As for Sherry, if there’s any chance that she’s been doing this stuff on residents without their consent then she needs to be stopped. Even if they have been consenting, it’s iffy: this sounds like the kind of behaviour and belief system that could potentially escalate into convincing people not to take their meds or even hiding them.

  43. Eep*

    Oh wow, uhm, could there be a trigger warning on this? Blood makes me feel… woozy……..

  44. Harriet Vane*

    I think this is the most disturbing thing I’ve read on AAM, and that’s saying a lot, what with couples therapy with your boss, coworkers not passing along messages about spouse’s emergency surgery, and feces & urine being distributed on walls and kitchen sinks.
    OP, please encourage your Dad to report and please update us!

  45. Moi*

    In Canada (and I’m sure the same applies elsewhere) if we have concerns about the care of a patient or resident care we can make an anonymous complaint to the authorities (The Ministry of Health and Long Term Care). I feel OP is morally obligated to do this based on the way the care is described.

  46. dkh*

    I think the bigger issue – or at least the one that worries me the most – they (Dad/Sherry) work in a ‘public care facility…. directly with the residents’ and the LW says they treat the residents ‘terribly’ and don’t follow the health codes!?! I would be more worried about resident neglect and abuse than the fact that Sherry thinks she can heal herself thru bloodletting

  47. Something Something Whomp Whomp*

    As WTF as all of this is, I wonder if a lot of us are measuring this with a very professional-job-typical yardstick that might not apply here. I have a handful of family members who are care workers in various facilities, unionized and not, and I’ve picked up some general themes about their work cultures:

    -A very us-versus-them way of thinking about relations with managers, in part because their managers either aren’t unionized or are members of another union local
    -In some cases, some amount of dependence on being unionized to protect their jobs
    -At the same time, lots of workers who don’t quite understand the separation between the union and their employer, which in turn discourages them from reporting certain things to the union
    -A much higher tolerance for boundary violations than a lot of readers here would be okay with
    -A very “keep your head down” attitude about other people’s violations; there’s this idea the way you carry out the tasks of your job is how you do right by residents, but it’s self-righteous and naive to interfere with what your colleagues do
    -A culture where almost any discussion of your colleagues with a manager or HR is regarded as “tattling” or “kissing a**”
    -People don’t seem to view being adjacent to their colleague’s serious violation as an ethical issue for themselves
    -Another big one to remember is that for paraprofessionals, switching jobs and maintaining the same level of compensation can be more challenging in these positions than in other industries. Either you stay at an employer for years and move up that employer’s/union’s wage scale, or you change jobs and start near the bottom again. If you know you can’t easily walk away from your job, it’s easier to accept what’s happening around you.

    Maybe this is uncommon to the sector and maybe my relatives are just unethical a-holes, that is entirely possible. But I think that that there’s a certain kind of major power imbalance that creates environments where paraprofessionals find it too risky or unnecessary or whatever to hold each other accountable. That’s not excusing anything that’s going on, but I can understand why OP’s dad might not want to make a complaint.

    1. Not So NewReader*

      I agree with everything you have here except for the union part.

      “-At the same time, lots of workers who don’t quite understand the separation between the union and their employer, which in turn discourages them from reporting certain things to the union.”

      It depends on the union and it depends on the leadership. But in some instances there is very little difference between union and management. Union just becomes another boss who tells people what to do with no regard for the people themselves.
      I hope I can encourage you to look closer at union-employee relationships and see what is there in each particular setting. I belonged to a well known union who said, “If you do not walk picket lines for us and do other work, we many not be there for you when you need help with your problems.” I wish I had saved the literature, this stuff is incredible. Another flyer left people sensing that the union would know who each person voted for in elections and if you did not vote the union way you would be found out. I should have saved this stuff. I got pretty nervous about all of it and once I was out of the job I tossed their literature.
      Ask them why they distrust the union and then just listen.

  48. Director of Alpaca Exams*

    Kind of astonished the word “assault” isn’t in here anywhere. If I had an injury and a coworker grabbed it without asking or warning, that’s what I’d consider it.

    Also, for those who do believe in healing energy, someone applying it nonconsensually can be experienced as psychic assault.

  49. Lovely Day in the Pandemic*

    Alison was so kind and reasonable in her response, but there is nothing reasonable about this situation. My immediate reaction was that Sherry is having a mental breakdown of some kind. Furthermore, no one can go around touching other people in this time of Covid-19. Sherry’s behavior is bizarre and should be reported to HR. Her coworkers should not be subject to her very strange behavior especially if she is violating boundaries.

  50. yikes*

    I would call her family and recommend they take her to a psychiatrist, frankly. She is clearly a danger to herself.

  51. Patsy38*

    I know we shouldn’t speculate, and this woman might just be super into spiritual healing or whatever…
    But, my immediate concern is that if she does have a tumour in her breast, and she hasn’t been treating it properly, that its metastasized to her brain and is causing delusions.

    I know thats alot, but believing you can heal people is pretty crazy! I’d be very concerned about her ability to make rational decisions. Especially if she is in the medical field.

    Either way- this is madness and definitely requires a very serious meeting with HR.

    1. string_theory*

      This was immediately where my mind went, too. Delusions often have physical causes.

  52. Elm*

    I’m not speculating on her state of mind, but I can think of a couple of options Dad could engage in for her safety–regardless of her reasoning, cutting yourself for any reason is unsafe. (What needs to be done by/at his workplace is a whole other can of worms.) He could call Adult Protective Services (which we typically think of for the elderly, but it’s for anyone over 18 who seems at risk) or the county/state mental health services department. This can be done anonymously if desired. What ends up happening could be a) nothing, as she is an adult and may be allowed to refuse services; b) she agrees to get assistance; or c) depending on local laws, mandated in-patient mental health treatment. I’ve dealt with option c with someone I know. Some places do c if the adult is a threat to others; I’m no expert on what happens if they’re a threat to themselves. Whether or not she’s considered a threat would be up to the experts, not me here in the comments section.

    Of course, mental health and APS are grossly understaffed and overworked (and underpaid, despite social work being an incredibly dangerous career). They may not be able to prioritize her, and I don’t fault them for that. But, calling can’t hurt.

  53. Luna*

    There’s a reason that ‘bleeding’ became a stupid way of treating injuries and illnesses. As it is, Sherry can do whatever she wants for her own health. But she does not get to touch other people without permission.
    As for Gerry, what the heck is wrong with that guy?

    1. Perpal*

      It’s still used hemachromatosis, and sometimes for polycythemia … that’s about it.

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