Nurses charged with being under the influence while on duty

By: - August 22, 2023 1:32 pm

Two Iowa nursing home workers are facing sanctions for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on duty. (Photo illustration by Iowa Capital Dispatch; background photo by JGI/Jamie Grill/Getty Images)

Two Iowa nursing home workers are facing sanctions for being under the influence of alcohol or drugs while on duty.

According to the Iowa Board of Nursing, Rocquel Clark, 34, of Madison County was on duty and working at an undisclosed long-term care facility on June 14, 2022, when multiple individuals reported that she appeared unbalanced and glassy-eyed, and that she was talking rapidly and slurring her speech.

Clark allegedly left the facility three times during her shift and returned after picking up a patient’s prescription for morphine from a pharmacy. The board alleges workers later determined someone had tampered with the morphine and opened the container. Clark allegedly consented to a drug screen that resulted in a positive finding for oxycodone, opiates, amphetamine, and benzodiazepines.

The Board of Nursing subsequently charged Clark with practicing nursing while under the influence of illicit drugs and failing to properly safeguard patient medications.

While the Board of Nursing has not identified the care facility where the incident took place, the temp agency GrapeTree Medical Staffing reports that Clark worked there from Nov. 3, 2021, to Aug. 7, 2023.

Recently, Clark and the board agreed to resolve the case with an indefinite suspension of her nursing license pending the completion of chemical dependency and mental health evaluations and the completion of any recommended treatment.

If no such recommendation is made, Clark’s license will be reinstated and placed on probation for 12 months, during which time Clark will have to submit to chemical screening.

Separate disciplinary case

In an unrelated disciplinary case, the board alleged that Marlys Highland, 61, of Newton, was working at an undisclosed care facility in August 2022 when she reported to work while impaired in some fashion.

The board charged Highland with the offense of either practicing nursing while under the influence of alcohol, marijuana or illicit drugs, or practicing while impaired by legitimately prescribed medications.

Highland and the board recently agreed to resolve the case with an indefinite suspension of her nursing license pending the completion of some form of treatment that was recommended earlier this year. Once that treatment is completed, Highland’s license will be placed on probation for 18 months.

According to Grandview Heights Rehab & Healthcare in Marshalltown, Highland has worked there since Sept. 16, 2022, a few weeks after the incident that led to the disciplinary charges. Court records indicate Highland previously worked at Nelson Manor in Newton.

Recently, the board also took action in the disciplinary case of Katie Dykstra of Sioux Center, who worked at an unspecified hospital from Aug. 13, 2018, until Nov. 14, 2022.

On Nov. 6, 2022, Dykstra was caring for a patient in labor when she allegedly failed to document any assessment of the monitoring strips that track the heart rate of a fetus. At one point, the strips showed a recurring deceleration of the heart rate, and, according to the board, a physician was not notified of the situation.

Later, a prolapsed umbilical cord was detected, an emergency C-section was performed, and the baby was transported to another hospital for care. Board of Nursing records give no indication as to the patient outcome.

The board charged Dykstra with failing to assess or accurately document the status of a patient and committing an act that might adversely affect the health of a patient. The case was resolved with a warning.

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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.