Staff member at Oakdale home care provider accused of stealing narcotics from clients

The Minnesota Department of Health substantiated the financial exploitation allegations.
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Allegations of financial exploitation by a staff member at Peaceful Lodge, a home care provider, in Oakdale were substantiated by the Minnesota Department of Health's Office of Health Facility Complaint, a public report states.

According to the report, "it is more likely than not that" the staff member stole two clients' medications. This is based on the staffer's access to medications, her inaccurate documentation of the destruction of other medications and her known theft of money from the facility during the same time frame, the report says.

An MDH investigator found the staff member took two clients' medication for her own personal use. Client No. 1 was missing approximately 20 methadone tablets. This was discovered after the facility contacted the pharmacy for a refill, but it was too early for one.

The staff member had signed for the prescription delivery of 60 methadone tablets about 21 days prior but did not document anywhere at the facility that the client had received the 60 tablets. 

Client No. 2 was missing approximately 120 hydrocodone tablets.  These tablets were stored in a cupboard in the nursing office. The director of nursing had become suspicious after seeing the staff member on a hidden camera stealing clients' rent payments, totaling $400, so she checked the narcotics counts, at which time it was discovered 120 hydrocodone pills were missing from the overflow medication storage.

The staff member and the director of nursing are the only people with permitted access and keys to the overflow medication. 

In addition to the missing pills and money, the investigation found the staff member disposed of medications without the proper documentation. The facility policy requires the director of nursing and another staff member to destroy medication, but the staff member claimed another staff member double signed the destruction log, but that staff member stated she had never witnessed any medication destruction with the alleged perpetrator. 

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The alleged staffer is no longer employed but the facility and the overflow narcotic medication storage system was changed so now only the director of nursing has access, the report says.

The investigator did not interview the alleged perpetrator because she did not return their calls. 

The responsible party will be notified of their right to appeal the maltreatment finding, the report says. If the maltreatment is substantiated against an identified employee, MDH's report will be submitted to the nurse aide registry for possible inclusion of the finding on the abuse registry and/or to the Minnesota Department of Human Services for possible disqualification in accordance with the provisions of the background study requirements under state law.

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