State Nursing Board Suspends 4 Licenses, Disciplines 2 For Drug, Alcohol Abuse

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The state Board of Examiners for Nursing last week suspended the licenses of four nurses and disciplined two others, all for drug- or alcohol-related offenses.

The board summarily suspended the registered nurse (RN) license of Kathryn Lovejoy after it found her severe alcohol use disorder, as well as multiple emotional and substance abuse disorders, represent a clear and immediate danger to the public health and safety.

Lovejoy, of New Haven, entered a rehabilitation program in March 2018 and was required to submit to random urine screens and breathalyzer tests, records show. In June 2019 the rehabilitation center referred Lovejoy’s case to the state Department of Public Health (DPH) after she used alcohol and failed to comply with urine tests, stating “they were unable to confirm [whether Lovejoy was] … fit to practice [nursing],” according to the motion for summary suspension.

The board also summarily suspended the licensed practical nurse (LPN) license of Tammy Piccirillo of Seymour who, according to a May 2019 consent order she signed, abused opiates from 2017 to 2018. Under that consent order Piccirillo’s license was placed on probation for four years and she was ordered to undergo random urine screens. Piccirillo failed to comply with the screens, resulting in the board’s decision to suspend her LPN license.

The LPN license of Joseph Iannicelli of Waterbury was summarily suspended last Wednesday by the board for violating the terms of his license probation. Iannicelli had previously been disciplined twice. His license had been suspended in June 2017, when the board found he posed a “clear and immediate danger” to the public due to his drug use. Seven times between August 2016 and April 2017, he tested positive for cocaine, DPH records show. In March of 2019, his license was placed on probation for four years and he was ordered to undergo drug and alcohol tests.

Julia Heller-Smith’s RN license was suspended for one year and she was fined $2,000 by the board for drug abuse that hampered her ability to practice as a nurse.

According to the board’s memorandum of decision, Heller-Smith, while working as a nurse at St. Francis Hospital & Medical Center in Hartford in September and October 2017, turned off various patients’ narcotic infusion pumps for between 2.5 and almost 11 hours and diverted those patients’ hydromorphone, fentanyl and morphine for her own personal use.

The board also found that Heller-Smith, of East Hampton, falsified controlled substance receipt records, failed to accurately document medical and hospital records, and abused fentanyl, hydromorphone and morphine to excess.

Heller-Smith’s RN license was concurrently placed on probation for five years, and she must submit to random weekly drug tests and undergo therapy.

Lourdes Mercado, an LPN from Willimantic, had her license placed on probation for two years, was ordered to complete courses on professional ethics, medication administration and time management, and cannot be employed as a nurse for two years. Mercado’s license was previously placed on probation for three years after the board found that in 2015, while working as an LPN at Salmon Brook Health Care in Glastonbury, she took Oxycodone tablets intended for six patients under her care and failed to accurately document medical records. Mercado was ordered to complete ethics classes as part of her previous probation, and when she failed to provide a certificate of completion, the board placed her license on probation again last week.

The RN license of Angela Star of Ledyard was reprimanded and placed on probation for four years for engaging in conduct or communication that violated professional boundaries and for abusing alcohol to excess. Star is required to complete coursework, undergo therapy and submit urine screens.

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