Iowa nurses sanctioned for drug use, theft of patient medications, other violations

Nurse who admitted meth use keeps license, works at Wayne County Hospital

By: - February 8, 2023 4:11 pm

The Iowa Board of Nursing has sanctioned several Iowa nurses for substance abuse issues, stealing patient medications and other issues. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch; background photo by JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

The Iowa Board of Nursing has sanctioned several Iowa nurses for substance abuse issues, stealing patient medications and other issues.

One of the nurses recently disciplined by the board is Cody Babbitt of Plano, who tested positive for methamphetamine while employed by two Iowa hospitals. Babbitt currently works at Wayne County Hospital, where he has been employed since 2004. He can continue to practice nursing under the terms of a recent board order.

Last April, the Iowa Board of Nursing charged Babbitt with failure to assess patients and unauthorized possession of controlled substances.

Board records indicate that while working at Mercy One Hospital in Centerville, Babbitt’s colleagues reported what they considered suspicious behavior, such as Babbitt procuring drugs to be administered to patients at some later point in time; retrieving items from his backpack and then entering a restroom; claiming he had disposed of medications procured for patients’ use; and procuring oxycodone and fentanyl for patients who, according to patient records, were never given the drug.

During a substance abuse evaluation, Babbitt allegedly admitted using methamphetamine about five times in May and June of 2021, which resulted in a recommendation for one eight-hour treatment program. After testing positive for methamphetamine, he was fired from Mercy One but continued to work at Wayne County Hospital, according to the board.

At a recent Board of Nursing hearing, Babbitt again admitted having used meth, but denied stealing patient medications. He also argued that his use of drugs did not meet the board’s definition of unethical conduct.

The board voted to allow Babbitt to continue practicing nursing, although his license will be placed on probation for one year and he will be required to complete 30 hours of education on proper medical documentation. As part of his probation, he must also submit to periodic chemical screening.

Other Iowa nurses recent sanctioned by the board include:

Randi Roggentien of Atkins: The board alleged that while working as the clinic director at an unspecified outpatient treatment center from March 2021 to May 2021, Roggentien instructed non-nursing staff how to administer narcotic medications to patients, which the workers then did. The board records do not indicate whether the workers had any medical training. The workers later alleged that they were left alone for periods of time in the medication room with access to the controlled substances.

In January 2021, Roggentien was convicted of drunken driving after tests showed she had a blood-alcohol level more than three times the legal limit while driving in Linn County. The Board of Nursing recently ordered Roggentien to complete 36 hours of education on medication safety. Roggentien has worked as an Iowa nursing home administrator and in 2022 she was employed by the Winslow House Care Center in Marion.

Quinton Twilla of Center Point: The board alleged that at some point between 2010 and 2021, while working at an unspecified care facility, Twilla repeatedly engaged in some form of conduct that created an intimidating, hostile or offensive work environment. The board has suspended Twilla’s license and he has agreed to undergo a mental health evaluation to determine whether he “is safe to practice nursing,” according to board documents. Assuming his license is reinstated, it will be subject to two years of probation. State records indicate Twilla is a past employee of Manor Care Health Services in Cedar Rapids.

Debbie Hird of Blakesburg: The board alleged that while working for a care facility, Hird misappropriated patient medications, forged documents to indicate her colleagues had procured the medications, and then denied doing so when confronted with video evidence. The board has suspended Hird’s license.

Before she can apply for reinstatement, she must complete a substance abuse and mental health evaluation, fulfill any treatment recommendations, and show evidence of one year of sobriety. Iowa court records indicate the incidents took place at the Good Samaritan Home in Ottumwa and involved the alleged theft of hydrocodone intended for at least two different residents.

Hird is currently facing criminal charges of identity theft, tampering with records and controlled-substance violations. A pretrial conference in the case is scheduled for next week.

Kami Jo Adolf of Dubuque: In June 2021, Adolf was convicted of criminal mischief and domestic assault with injury. According to the board, from May 2020 through March 2021, Adolf tested positive for methamphetamine, amphetamine, and benzodiazepine; failed to provide urine tests, failed to appear at treatment appointments; admitted to methamphetamine use; and became hostile and non‐cooperative with treatment.

In November 2021, she was charged with a probation violation for failing to enroll in a domestic abuse program that was a requirement of her sentencing. Eight months later, the Board of Nursing charged Adolf with excessive use of drugs that could impair her ability to safely practice medicine. The board has resolved that case by revoking Adolf’s license to practice nursing.

In 2015, Adolf was criminally convicted of unlawfully carrying a concealed weapon; criminal mischief; interfering with officials acts; abetting the violation of a no-contact order; two separate counts of violating a no-contact order; and falsely informing the board that she had never been convicted of a crime. At that time, the board ordered her to complete 30 hours of education on ethics.

Megan Tonnemacher of West Des Moines: In 2017, the board accused Tonnemacher of misappropriating patient medications or supplies. The board alleged that while working at unspecified hospital between 2015 and 2017, Tonnemacher claimed to have given one patient a narcotic the patient denied receiving; claimed to have given narcotics to patients for whom no other nurses were administering the drugs; had an abnormally high number of instances in which she procured narcotics for patients and then disposed of the drugs without administering them; and claimed to have disposed of narcotics that could have been safely returned to the hospital’s supply.

In December 2017, the board voted to indefinitely suspend Tonnemacher’s license pending a chemical-dependency evaluation and the completion of any treatment that may be recommended. At some unspecified date, her license was reinstated and placed on probation. Recently, she agreed to surrender her license for unspecified reasons. Because that action is part of the same disciplinary case as the 2017 charges, the license surrender appears to be tied to the conditions of her probation.

Vicki Stork, West Des Moines: In 2021, Stork was charged by the board with excessive use of alcohol after three drunken-driving convictions. Court records indicate that in the most recent drunken-driving case, which dates back to 2020, Stork was found asleep in her vehicle near a liquor store. At the time, she was employed by UnityPoint hospitals, she informed the court. Stork was allowed to continue practicing nursing, subject to 12 months of probation during which time she was required to submit to chemical testing.

According to the board, she tested positive for alcohol use within six weeks of her license being placed on probation. She also missed check-ins with a case manager on six occasions and failed to submit to a blood test, the board alleged. In November, the board issued Stork a warning. The next day, she surrendered her license.

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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.