Gabriele Eye employees express shock, disbelief

By: Sarah Platt Email
By: Sarah Platt Email

One day after the Gabrieles' deaths, employees and patients are wondering what to do next.

Others want to know what happens with the Gabrieles' healthcare fraud case, now that the couple is dead.

Staff members say all three Gabriele Eye Institute locations are closed this week. Newscenter 16 spoke with several staff members outside the Elkhart location, where the couple died yesterday. Many came to show their respects for their former boss.

With the people in charge suddenly gone, the staff is now trying to shift patients to their two other doctors or refer them to others in the area.

“Shock, disbelief, hurt, devastation, we miss them terribly, it's a nightmare, that we haven't woke up from yet,” says Shelly Coughlin, a Gabriele Eye Institute employee.

Coughlin says it will take her and her co-workers a long time to get over what happened here.

“Most of us have been with Dr. Gabriele at least five years,” adds Coughlin.

Tuesday afternoon, staff members supported each other outside the Elkhart location, placing flowers and notes outside the office doors.

“This whole office was their life, their whole life,” says Coughlin.

Employees say the federal investigation on Dr. Gabriele and his wife wore the couple down, but no one expected them to go out like they did.

“I'm very shocked by it, they were very strong people with everything they did, put all of their passion into it, but it was just too much on them, you can only take so much,” adds Stephanie Geraghty, another Gabriele employee.

Staff members say they're now in the process of contacting patients and trying to re-schedule appointments. No one knows the exact future of the eye practice.

Meantime, the Gabrieles' friend, Sue Manuszak, says the couple named her executor of their estate. She says she still can't believe her friends-- who were like family-- are gone.

“Basically my parents lost a set of kids because we spent every Easter, Thanksgiving, Christmas, everything with them, they were my best friends, I’d see them five, six days a week,” explains Manuszak. “We're just trying to put one foot in front of the other, pick up the pieces, do what needs to be done… what Phil and Marcie would have wanted to be done. They thought the world of their staff and their patients.”

Manuszak says the couple indicated to her in a letter that they didn't want a funeral or viewing.
She says she'll respect their wishes, but may hold a memorial service for those who want to attend.

As for the criminal charges against the couple, those charges will be stopped because the government can’t prosecute the deceased. But, there’s still a criminal case against Gabriele Eye Institute, as a business. The federal prosecutor says he can’t comment on that right now.

The Gabriel Eye Institute says in a statement they're, "emotionally distraught" by the news.

The statement goes on to say the Gabrieles were "wonderful employers", and details will be provided in the next few days on patients' appointments.

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