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Nurse gets plea deal in drug case

By MELINDA WILLIAMS

melinda@southwesttimes.com

 

A former surgery nurse at LewisGale Hospital-Pulaski pleaded guilty Thursday to obtaining and using drugs by fraud, but the charges will be dismissed in a couple of years if she successfully completes a probationary term.

Four of the charges against Stephanie Nicole Cressell, 30, of Dublin were dismissed at the prosecution’s request because the drugs involved were determined to be something other than Fentanyl, for which she was charged.

Under a plea agreement, sentencing was deferred on one of the charges and the remaining 64 charges were continued without a finding until Cressell completes two years of supervised probation.

Pulaski County Circuit Court Judge Marcus Long Jr. told Cressell that the charges will be dismissed Jan. 21, 2016 if she abides by conditions of probation. “You’ll be found guilty if you don’t comply,” he warned.

As required by Virginia law, Cressell’s driver’s license will be suspended for six months. However, Judge Long agreed to issue her a restricted license to drive to and from work, to and from required substance abuse or other treatment programs and under other specific circumstances. He told Cressell not to drive outside of the restrictions, warning, “You can blow this whole thing” by doing so.

According to Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Skip Schwab, Cressell was working as a charge nurse in the operating room at the local hospital when she took Fentanyl for her personal use by forging or altering records.

For an example, Schwab explained that Cressell would increase the amount of Fentanyl the doctor had ordered for a patient so that she could take the extra doses herself. In some cases she added Fentanyl to a patient’s medication when it was not prescribed and then she took it.

When hospital officials noticed the discrepancies and confronted Cressell, she admitted to taking the medication and using it.

In December, the Virginia Board of Nursing reprimanded Cressell, according to a Consent order in the Board’s public records. In August, she signed a Recovery Monitoring Contract with the Health Practitioners’ Monitoring Program (HPMP) that will enable her to keep her license as long as she completes requirements of the program.

Successful completion of HPMP also is a condition of Cressell’s court-ordered probation.

Any violation of HPMP “shall be reason for revoking” the nurse’s license, states the Consent Order. Her ability to practice nursing outside of the Commonwealth is suspended as long as the Order is active.

Defense attorney Mike Barbour pointed out to Judge Long that it was determined Cressell’s actions had “no consequences to patients.” He explained that she was not depriving patients of their medications because the Fentanyl she took was extra medication she added to orders so she could take it for personal use.

He said Cressell, who was “born and raised here, cooperated fully with the investigation and has never been in trouble before. She has undergone “extraordinary rehabilitation,” since her actions were discovered, he added.

The HPMP program requires her to undergo drug testing, according to Barbour.

According to National Institute on Drug Abuse, Fentanyl is a “powerful synthetic opiate … similar, but more potent than morphine,” that is used to manage severe pain or treat chronic pain in people who are tolerant to opiates.

Cressell could receive a maximum of five years in prison if she fails to complete terms of probation.

Comments

comments

25 Responses to Nurse gets plea deal in drug case

  1. geez people

    January 27, 2014 at 10:01 pm

    I too am in the special monitoring program for healthcare professionals with the state of Virginia. Her drug tests are completely random. She calls or signs in online every morning and it is at that time that she finds out if she has to test that day or not. She has a certain amount of time to get to the lab for an observed urine sample. So, you people really need to get your facts straight before you start trying to act like you know everything. Her drug testing is through the state of Virginia health practioners monitoring program and then the legal system accesses those results through them. Also, people are acting like this lady is the only person who has ever done this. Afterf years of working in healthcare, I have seen 6 nurses and doctors go through this mistake in pulaski county. Her case is just the first one to get pulicity like this. I evedn know a nurse who was in charge of putting people to sleep for surgery who also did this and the local hospital didn’t even press charges or get the law involved. So please have your facts straight before you speak.

    • Lola

      January 28, 2014 at 10:51 am

      What is your point? A crime is still a crime regardless of how many others are doing the same thing. She did it too is a very childish defense.

      • geez people

        January 28, 2014 at 7:39 pm

        Wow, “lola”, you really need to find something better to do with your time than expressing your opinion to everyone else’s opinion to the southwest times articles. This is downright pathetic. I expressed my opinion toward someone else’s comment and how things work with this program for healthcare professionals, not for your entertainment. This website seems to be your mode of entertainment.

        • Lola

          January 29, 2014 at 11:43 am

          @geez people, Interesting theory as to what entertains me. As you are in the special monitoring program for healthcare professionals it is not hard to guess what entertains you. Mine is legal.

          • geez people

            January 29, 2014 at 9:43 pm

            Before you speculate, lola, I am not in this monitoring program for drug abuse. I am in it for a psychiatric disorder. So my entertainment is legal too. If you knew anything of what you are talking about, then you wouldn’t be on here offending people. Before expressing your opinion, get the facts straight. I am now done stooping to the level of some people and their pathetic entertainment.

        • Va Girl

          January 29, 2014 at 2:34 pm

          you mean Lola shouldn’t do the same thing you are doing?

        • Lola

          January 30, 2014 at 12:17 pm

          Bahahaha, I’m glad I didnt’t call you crazy.

          • Will

            February 6, 2014 at 11:43 am

            What a childish and uninformed remark.

  2. disgusted

    January 29, 2014 at 9:16 pm

    I agree. Seems like everytime I get on this web site Lola is on here in everybodys business. I wish I knew half of what she thinks she knows and Va. girl is always taking up for her.

  3. Toby101

    January 29, 2014 at 9:56 pm

    I thought there was a Dr. Cheek sitting in federal prison just for prescribing drugs, she didn’t even take them!

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