VALPARAISO — A nurse accused of stealing vials of the synthetic opioid drug fentanyl while working at Porter Regional Hospital pleaded guilty during her initial hearing Monday in return for her multiple felony counts being reduced to a single misdemeanor.
Allison Henry, 26, of Valparaiso, was immediately sentenced per the terms of the agreement to a year behind bars with all but the single day she served suspended and to be spent on formal probation.
Henry is to be evaluated for substance abuse and comply with treatment as approved by the county's adult probation department, according to the plea agreement struck with Deputy Indiana Attorney General Maureen Devlin.
Henry is also ordered to cooperate with proceedings involving her state nursing license.
Before accepting the deal, Porter Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Clymer voiced concern about Henry retaining her nursing license and handling drugs again.
Clymer said his concern is based on the well being of both Henry and her patients.
Defense attorney Adam Tavitas said once the criminal case is complete, a hearing will be held in Indianapolis involving Henry's nursing license.
Henry told the court she is not currently working as a nurse and has no plans to pursue that job. She has completed a nurse recovery program and had been working in a nursing case manager role that did not put her directly in touch with drugs.
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Henry pleaded guilty to one of four original felony counts — obtaining a controlled substance by fraud or deceit. The judgment was entered as a misdemeanor and the three remaining counts were dismissed.
The accusations came to light when on Sept. 6, a nurse reported that someone had removed an intravenous vial of fentanyl for his patient from a machine that requires nurses to use both their fingerprint and a unique identification code assigned to them, according to the charges. It was discovered that Henry had taken the drug, prosecutors allege.
A supervisor confronted Henry, who handed her the vial that had been filled with saline, according to court documents. An internal investigation revealed Henry had also removed fentanyl Sept. 5 for another patient not assigned to her, court records state.
Henry admitted during an in-house meeting Sept. 6 she had taken the drugs for her own personal use, according to investigators. The total value of the drugs was $82.29.
"Henry also admitted she diverted medications from a hospital in Maryland where she was a traveling nurse," according to court documents.
Henry has resigned her position at Porter Regional Hospital.
Porter/LaPorte County Courts and Social Justice Reporter
Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.