News

Former Savannah Heights nurse indicted on a charge of controlled substance offenses

A former employee at Savannah Heights in Mt. Pleasant was indicted on a charge of controlled substance offenses committed during the course of her employment from July 16 to Aug. 17, 2018.

Barbara Jean Tindall, 47, of Keosauqua, was charged with two counts of acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge and three counts of false statements relating to health care matters, according to a news release from the office of U.S. Attorney Marc Krickbaum with the Department of Justice.

The indictment alleges Tindall fraudulently obtained Oxycodone and Hydrocodone pills from residents at Savannah Heights and the Keosauqua Health Care Center for her own use.

Tindall pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Dell Hammond, administrator at Savannah Heights, said Tindall was supervised during her training at the facility and was caught obtaining drugs from residents on her first day on her own.

“We found evidence that lead us to believe there was a drug division,” Hammond said, adding there was no indication of safety or health concerns to residents. “No residents were affected. It was found before anything happened,” he said.

Hammond said that while drug diversion can be a common occurrence at nursing home facilities, this was the first time he has dealt with it at Savannah Heights.

“It can happen. Luckily, we had policies and procedures in place that made sure we found the error pretty much immediately,” Hammond said.

All medications deliveries to Savannah Heights are checked in and out by delivery drivers and nurses.

Electronic records verify who checks out medication for patients. Patients who received narcotics are followed-up with to make sure their medication was delivered.

“We can verify whether pain was relieved or not,” Hammond said.

The possible penalties for acquiring a controlled substance by misrepresentation, fraud, deception and subterfuge is up to four years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine. The potential penalties for false statements relating to health care matters is up to five years in prison and up to a $250,000 fine.

These matters were investigated by the Iowa Medicaid Fraud Control Unit. Tindall’s case is being prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Iowa as a part of the Department of Justice’s Elder Abuse Initiative.

An indictment is merely an accusation and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.