The Board of Examiners for Nursing on Wednesday disciplined seven nurses, including five for abusing drugs or alcohol.
The board members also recommended that the state Department of Public Health hold a hearing in the case of Mary Howe of Griswold, a registered nurse who has been accused of inappropriate care of an inmate at York Correctional Institution in Niantic. DPH records show that on Nov. 1, 2014, the inmate bumped her head against a wall and fell out of a wheelchair and suffered a serious brain injury while in the prison medical unit. The inmate was hospitalized in critical care until February 2015 and remains in a long-term care facility, records show.
News reports have identified the former inmate as Amy Rolon, then 36, who was being held before trial on misdemeanor charges of sixth-degree larceny and failure to appear in court. She filed a $7.5 million medical-neglect claim against the state Department of Correction in 2016, the Hartford Courant reported.
A conservator for Rolon settled the case for $780,000 on Jan. 26, Hartford Superior Court records show. Gerald Sack of West Hartford, who was representing the conservator, would not comment except to say the claim has been settled.
Howe, who was head nurse at York's medical unit when Rolon was injured, no longer works for the UConn Health unit that provides medical care in the prison, a UConn Health spokesman said.
During a pre-hearing review Wednesday, board member Lisa Freeman said she was "horrified" by the way the inmate was treated and board member Mary Dietmann, an RN, compared the environment in the prison to the movie "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest."
Howe attended the meeting with her attorney, Richard Brown, who told the board that Howe has had an exemplary record as a nurse.
"We're not dealing with Nurse Ratched here," Brown said, referring to the heartless character from the movie.
Brown said Howe has received a positive evaluation at her new nursing job, but after the meeting, he declined to say where she is working. The board revoked the license of Hester Munyon, an RN from Norwalk, saying her abuse of alcohol and cocaine poses a danger to the public, state records show. In April 2015, she was hospitalized for alcohol detoxification and was diagnosed with severe alcohol use disorder and severe cocaine use disorder, records show.
It also revoked the license of Mary K. Field, an RN from Burlington, because she tested positive for codeine in September and Oxycodone in November while on probation.
In November 2015, the board had found she had abused the anti-anxiety drug Xanax in violation of an earlier probation. She was placed on a four-year probation, with records showing she had used an opioid painkiller in excess in 2013.
This past August, the board accepted her testimony that she had regularly attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings and reinstated her license. But by November 2016, records show, she had tested positive for drugs again, so her license was suspended.
The board also revoked the licensed practical nurse license of Christina Mahner of the Terryville section of Plymouth. Records show she was impaired while on duty Sept. 15 while working for PSA Healthcare in Plainville and that she abused opiates, codeine, morphine or heroin on that day.
Mahner admitted that she had used heroin the day before her Dec. 21 hearing before the nursing board and was not in a treatment plan, records show, so the board found that she could not practice nursing safely.
Wednesday, the board also revoked the RN license of Jennifer McArdle of Clinton because on March 23, she inappropriately handled a tablet of morphine while working as a nurse at the Mystic Healthcare Nursing and Rehabilitation Center, records show.
The board also found she had abused alcohol to excess in the fall of 2016 and the abuse is affecting her ability to practice nursing, records show.
The board fined Lynn Fletcher of Manchester, an RN and advanced practice registered nurse at Woodlake at Tolland, $1,000 and placed her nursing licenses on probation for four years. The board had found that in 2015, she had stolen 14 fentanyl patches from the facility and from patients who were wearing them, records show.
In November 2015, Fletcher also stole OxyContin from a Woodlake patient, records show. The board concluded that Fletcher took the fentanyl and OxyContin for her own use. It also found that she failed to accurately document medical records or controlled substance receipts, records show.
The board found that Fletcher accepted responsibility for her actions, has not used illegal drugs for more than a year and concluded that she could safely practice under the terms of the probation.
On Wednesday, the board suspended the RN license of Enrique Lopez of Washington Depot, saying that between September and December, while working at Life Spring Home Health Care of Waterbury, he took a drug used to treat panic attacks from patients, records show. He also failed to properly document medical records and falsified one drug record, the statement of charges against him said.
From June to November, he also took an anti-anxiety drug from a patient and offered to pay the patient's cable bill in return for the drug, records show. Lopez is also accused of making inappropriate comments or having inappropriate physical contact with a patient, records show.
The board also reinstated the LPN license of Amanda Espinosa of Canterbury and placed it on probation for one year, a consent order shows. In 2012 and 2013, Espinosa inappropriately documented controlled substances while working at Greentree Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Waterford, the order states.
Source: Courant & Connecticut Health I-Team
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