The nurse practitioner who treated the late actress Stevie Ryan has been stripped of her California license

The nurse practitioner who treated actress Stevie Ryan – and had sex with her months before she committed suicide in 2017 – has been stripped of her California licenses, the Board of Registered announced last week. State nursing.

The decision, which took effect on February 28, came after the nurse, Gerald “Jay” Baltz, lost an administrative law case relating to his treatment of Ryan, known for his pioneering YouTube videos. and his VH1 comedy show “Stevie TV”. The case had been initiated by the head of the Board of Nursing, an agency within the state Department of Consumer Affairs. Baltz is challenging the Los Angeles County Superior Court’s decision.

The formal charge, brought against Baltz in 2020, sought the suspension or revocation of his nursing licenses for alleged misconduct subject to discipline under the California Business and Professions Code. The legal filing charged him with gross negligence, incompetence, unprofessional conduct and sexual misconduct.

A Times investigation, published in April 2021, detailed Ryan’s rise in Hollywood, his entanglement with Baltz and his death at age 33. Briefed on the nursing board’s decision, Steve Ryan, the late actress’ father, said, “I guess that’s good news.”

“It’s hard to feel good about something that changes the lives of both parties,” he said.

In the charge, Baltz allegedly had an inappropriate, cross-border relationship with Ryan while she was his patient, and then a sexual relationship with her while receiving treatment at the facility where he worked. He also said Baltz allegedly issued prescriptions to Ryan for about 10 medications used to treat a variety of conditions — including depression and bipolar disorder — without providing “clear rationale for the medications prescribed.” He also allegedly failed to request surveillance for her when she was suicidal, the prosecution alleges.

Suicide Prevention and Crisis Counseling Resources

If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts, seek professional help and call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Text “HOME” to 741741 in the US and Canada to reach the Crisis Text Line.

Following a hearing last fall, a judge with the state’s Office of Administrative Hearings issued a draft ruling in November ordering the revocation of Baltz’s four state nurse licenses. The judge wrote that Baltz should be disciplined for unprofessional conduct and gross negligence, but not for incompetence or sexual misconduct, in part because Ryan was no longer his patient by the time their relationship became intimate. The Business and Professions Code states that “any act of sexual abuse, misconduct or relationship” with a client is grounds for discipline, but does not specify that this applies to former clients.

Ryan asked Baltz during a visit on April 5, 2017, according to the proposed ruling. That day, Baltz ended his nurse-patient relationship with Ryan and transferred his care to another mental health care provider at Insight Choices, the facility where he worked, according to the filing. Baltz and Ryan dated briefly: They ended things in late April via text chat, during which Baltz said he hoped she would “never say anything” about their romance, according to the decision.

Three months later, Ryan committed suicide.

Baltz’s “breach of professional boundaries with a former patient with known mental health disabilities demonstrates a serious lack of judgment,” the judge wrote in the proposed ruling.

During the hearing, Baltz explained that he felt “terrible” because of his romantic relationship with Ryan, and blamed his alcohol abuse, according to the ruling. (He said he had been sober since May 2017.) Baltz defended the rationale for his prescribing activity, but also admitted that he lied to a board of nursing investigator during a 2019 interview at the during which he was asked about his relationship with Ryan, saying he did it because he “felt guilty and scared,” he said.

The board of nursing adopted the decision in January, but Baltz filed a motion for reconsideration on February 14. He argued, in part, that revoking Baltz’s licenses was “inappropriate and punitive” due to, among other factors, the judge misinterpreting the law. in concluding that Baltz engaged in unprofessional conduct by having a sexual relationship with Ryan after he stopped treating her. The petition was rejected by council on February 24.

Baltz, who left Insight Choices a month after Ryan’s death and most recently practiced at MelrosePsych in the Beverly Grove neighborhood, will be eligible to seek reinstatement of his licenses in three years, according to the nursing board.

Through his attorneys, Baltz declined several interview requests. In an interview with The Times, one of his lawyers, Michael Khouri, said that “Gerald Baltz has for many years been a highly regarded nurse practitioner with a large number of patients who say nothing but wonderful things about the man”.

Khouri played down some of the allegations Baltz has faced, including those relating to the admission note he wrote when he began providing care for Ryan in 2015. The note allegedly “provided little information and “failed to document” elements of Ryan’s medical history, the prosecution says. “If all the doctors in California were disciplined because their grades weren’t complete, there wouldn’t be any doctors,” Khouri said.

Baltz is a nurse practitioner – a registered nurse with additional training, enabling him to prescribe medications and offer diagnoses, among other activities. With such responsibilities, nurse practitioners, whose work in California requires the oversight of a physician, have a unique role in the health care system, a fact highlighted during Baltz’s October hearing before the administrative law judge. .

Stevie Ryan, seen in 2008, committed suicide in 2017 aged 33.

(Charley Gallay/Getty Images)

A major point of disagreement at the hearing centered on Baltz’s actions when Ryan felt suicidal. California law requires nurses who observe “abnormal characteristics” in patients to initiate “appropriate reporting or referral” to others in the medical field.

The judge’s ruling cited Baltz’s notes from his sessions with Ryan, including one from their last visit that said “she’s feeling suicidal.” A nurse practitioner who served as an expert witness for the head of the nursing board said Baltz did not refer Ryan to a higher level of care. Baltz opted to refer Ryan to his supervising physician for specialist treatment, a decision the witness described as substandard.

Baltz testified that Ryan “was not at inherent risk of suicide because she endorsed a passive death wish for several years,” the ruling states. He also said he believed he had referred the issue “to an appropriate higher level of care” with his supervising physician. The judge noted, however, that there was “no indication that [Baltz] never performed a suicide risk assessment” for Ryan, even after her complaint of feeling suicidal during their last session. Therefore, the judge wrote that it was “debatable” how Baltz concluded that treatment with the doctor was appropriate instead of a “referral to a psychiatric hospital or urgent care.”

The judge noted that Baltz had submitted positive reference letters and had completed an educational training program on professional boundaries. The decision also explained that a clinical counselor who served as an expert witness for Baltz conducted a ‘sex offender risk assessment’ of the nurse and concluded that he was ‘not at risk of sexual recidivism’. . Nonetheless, the judge wrote that Baltz had shown “little evidence of rehabilitation”, saying he had provided no “concrete plan to prevent the recurrence of a similar incident”.

Baltz “was grossly negligent in failing to provide care or to exercise ordinary precautions in [Ryan’s] case, which he knew, or should have known, could have endangered the health or life of that patient,” the judge said.

Khouri, Baltz’s attorney, said “the company is worse off if his license is revoked.”

“Does he have remorse for what happened? Of course he is,” Khouri said. “Are we respecting the power of the board to make judgments on breaches of professional rules? Of course we do. But we do not agree with the sanction.

To that end, Baltz continues to pursue the case: On February 16, he filed a motion for writ of administrative warrant in LA County Superior Court. The filing asked the court to overturn the decision to revoke Baltz’s licenses, arguing that the board of nursing misinterpreted and misapplied relevant laws in his discipline against him, among other claims.

The board of nursing declined to comment on Baltz’s court filing, a spokesperson said, explaining that it was not discussing ongoing litigation. The parties will meet on May 26 to set a trial date.

Baltz not practicing in California as he awaits the outcome of his legal challenge: Phone calls to MelrosePsych
this week were greeted with an automated message that another vendor is “replacing Dr. Baltz in the meantime.” He also has nursing licenses in Colorado and Washington, but their status is now in flux.

According to a filing in August with Colorado’s Board of Nursing, Baltz voluntarily accepted a “non-disciplinary interim cessation of practice agreement” while he investigated allegations surrounding his conduct in California. Baltz denied violating the Nurse Practice Act, according to the legal document.

In Washington, Baltz faces the revocation, restriction or suspension of his license after being charged with unprofessional conduct by the state Nursing Quality Assurance Commission, which in a statement of charges of December, cited allegations he faced here.

Ryan’s friends, including Yuni Kim, said they were grateful for the board of nursing’s decision to revoke Baltz’s California licenses. He had continued to work through years of scrutiny of his actions by the council.

“I feel relieved – I also want to cry, because it should never have come to this,” said Kim, who began to sob. “Relief is mired in grief. She was my best friend.”

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