Travel nurse fired by Ballad for drug diversion being extradited here for charges

Travel nurse fired by Ballad for drug diversion being extradited here for charges

A travel nurse fired from Johnson City Medical Center last July for allegedly tampering with narcotics is on her way back to Johnson City to face criminal charges after she allegedly committed similar offenses at a West Virginia hospital.

West Virginia suspended Jacqueline Brewster’s multi-state nursing license last month, several weeks after a Beckley hospital reported a similar drug diversion on March 2.

Brewster, who wasn’t named last summer, was the nurse allegedly responsible for diverting drugs at JCMC using a method that put dozens of patients at potential risk for blood-borne diseases.

One hundred patients who may have been exposed to contaminated syringes last year at Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee were urged to get tested for hepatitis and HIV, according to state documents obtained by KHN through a public records request.

JCMC alerted about 100 patients last July they may have been exposed to hepatitis or HIV after it discovered the drug tampering and fired Brewster. Ballad Health said at the time that it had notified the Tennessee Department of Health, the United States Drug Enforcement Administration, and the office of the District Attorney.

Brewster was charged in November by a Washington County grand jury presentment with obtaining narcotics by fraud for the JCMC incident but was not arrested at that time.

A Tennessee Department of Health notice of a hearing for civil penalties says that after initially complying with a urine drug screen request, Brewster refused to submit an adequate sample and was fired.

Brewster, a registered nurse, has been licensed in Kentucky since 2004 and holds a license permitting her to work in more than 30 states that participate in the Nurse Licensure Compact.

By early this year Brewster, who was licensed in Kentucky but eligible to work in about 30 states due to an interstate nursing compact, had the job at Raleigh Hospital in Beckley.

Following a March 2 complaint from Raleigh, West Virginia’s nursing board summarily suspended Brewster’s license to practice in West Virginia on March 22, records show.

The West Virginia documentation provides more detail about what had happened in Johnson City.

“The first specimen Brewster provided the lab technician was not sufficient,” it says, adding that the lab technician asked her to provide a second one. When the tech turned to make sure it was enough, “Brewster got close to the lab technician.

“The lab technician asked Brewster to step away, so he did not spill the specimen. Brewster accused the lab technician of being corrupt. Brewster asked the lab technician if it was enough and he said yes. Brewster said, this is my ***, then grabbed the specimen out of the lab technician’s hand and dumped it down the sink.”

The Tennessee Department of Health has now initiated action against Brewster with a hearing set for August. TDH did not suspend her license following the JCMC investigation.

West Virginia’s order of summary suspension cites several reasons for the emergency action pending a hearing.

“Based on the above information, the Board finds that the health, safety, and welfare of the public is at risk as long as Jacqueline Brewster continues to possess the privilege allowing her to practice (in West Virginia).”

Brewster was arrested in Pikeville, Kentucky on Tuesday for extradition to Washington County. Judge Stacy Street issued a bench warrant for her the same day.
Travel nurse fired by Ballad for drug diversion being extradited here for charges
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