Board: Hospital ER nurse was under the influence while treating patients

By: - November 29, 2022 11:33 am

The Iowa Board of Nursing has suspended the license of a former emergency room nurse accused of working under the influence of alcohol. (Photo by Peter Dazeley/Getty Images)

The state of Iowa has suspended the license of a hospital emergency room nurse accused of working with patients while under the influence of alcohol.

The Iowa Board of Nursing has also taken action against a Des Moines nurse accused of stealing painkillers from nursing home residents and a school nurse who admitted having sex with a 16-year-old student.

In the case involving the emergency room nurse, the board alleges that Michelle Fandel of Fort Dodge was working an overnight shift at an Iowa hospital on April 8, 2022, when colleagues became concerned with her behavior.

While the board documents do not name the hospital where the incident occurred, Humboldt County Memorial Hospital says Fandel was employed there on the night in question and her employment ended three days later.

Humboldt County Memorial Hospital records indicate Fandel worked there as an emergency room nurse.

According to the board, Fandel’s colleagues noticed on April 8 that had she had written orders under the wrong medical provider’s name and there was a lack of charting pertaining to the discharge of a patient.

At the time, Fandel reportedly exhibited signs of being under the influence, with glazed eyes, slurred speech and slow movements. She also exhibited signs of confusion in dealing with patients.

Fandel submitted to a blood-alcohol test at 3 a.m., eight hours after her 12-hour shift began. The test allegedly showed she had a blood-alcohol level of .063. Fandel allegedly admitted having one drink at 1:30 p.m. the previous day.

The Iowa Board of Nursing charged Fandel with practicing nursing while the influence and with failing to properly evaluate or document the statis of a patient.

Recently, the board voted to suspend Fandel’s license, pending completion of a chemical dependency evaluation. If that evaluation doesn’t result in a recommendation for services or treatment, Fandel’s license will be reinstated and placed on probation for one year.

Other nursing board action

Among the other Iowa nurses who have faced sanctions from the board recently:

Christina Gilmore of Des Moines, who worked as the director of nursing at Des Moines’ Fleur Heights Care Center in October 2021 when, according to court records, she was accused of stealing hyrdocodone pills from a female resident, diverting methadone pills from another female resident, and then altering medical records to conceal the theft.

She was criminally charged with two felony counts of prohibited acts involving controlled substances and one count of tampering with records. She later entered an Alford plea to one count of prohibited acts, acknowledging “strong evidence of actual guilt,” but not admitting to the underlying facts of the charge. The two remaining charges were dismissed. She was fined $1,000 and placed on criminal probation for two years.

The Board of Nursing board recently voted to place Gilmore’s nursing license on probation for 12 months.

Angela Beik of Marion, who three years ago was convicted of sexual exploitation by a school employee and ordered to serve a 180-day jail sentence while registering as a sex offender. Beik was the school nurse at Linn-Mar High School in Marion and also worked at St. Luke’s Hospital in Cedar Rapids.

In 2018, police learned that Beik had allegedly told colleagues at St. Luke’s she’d had a “hot and heavy make out session” with a 16-year-old student at the school. Beik had allegedly befriended the high school freshman and in March 2018, responded to a Snapchat message from the student that included a photo of his genitalia by driving to the student’s house where the two had sex.

According to the board, Beik maintained her actions were influenced by the drug Ambien and also argued that the sex was not consensual and the student had raped her. The Board of Nursing revoked Beik’s license and in January 2021, she filed an application for reinstatement.

The board denied the application last December, which led to a a request for a hearing on the matter. At the July 2022 hearing, Beik acknowledged she had engaged in “make out sessions” with the student prior to the incident that led to her criminal conviction.

In denying Beik’s request for reinstatement, the board said “there simply has not been enough time for (Beik) to complete her recovery steps and consistently demonstrate a change in her judgment and behavior,” adding that her actions were “so egregious that it is difficult for the board to envision any set of conditions that would allow (her) to return to the practice of nursing any time in the foreseeable future.”

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Clark Kauffman
Clark Kauffman

Deputy Editor Clark Kauffman has worked during the past 30 years as both an investigative reporter and editorial writer at two of Iowa’s largest newspapers, the Des Moines Register and the Quad-City Times. He has won numerous state and national awards for reporting and editorial writing. His 2004 series on prosecutorial misconduct in Iowa was named a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting. From October 2018 through November 2019, Kauffman was an assistant ombudsman for the Iowa Office of Ombudsman, an agency that investigates citizens’ complaints of wrongdoing within state and local government agencies.