‘My heart dropped’: Provincial inspector recalls narcotics probe involving Elizabeth Wettlaufer

Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted by police from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont, Monday, June 26, 2017.
Elizabeth Wettlaufer is escorted by police from the courthouse in Woodstock, Ont, Monday, June 26, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS /Dave Chidley

A provincial inspector is recalling an investigation into missing narcotics at one of the long-term care homes where Elizabeth Wettlaufer worked.

READ MORE: Deaths of Wettlaufer’s victims weren’t flagged for provincial inspection: probe

Rhonda Kukoly is testifying at the public inquiry in St. Thomas and said after Wettlaufer’s crimes came to light, she started going through old documents.

“I can tell you my heart dropped when I heard that it was me that did that inspection and it involved Elizabeth Wettlaufer.”

As for that investigation, Kukoly said Meadow Park’s staff reported that the pharmacist and driver were able to help confirm that the narcotics were successfully delivered to the home.

“They also reported to me that a staff member, an RN, the day before the medication was received on Sept. 25, divulged information to the home that she had a drug and alcohol problem and had a bad weekend,” she said.

Story continues below advertisement

“On Sept. 26, the day that it was missing, that particular RN was working that day at the time of the delivery.”

That RN was Wettlaufer, who resigned before staff noticed the medication was gone.

“The RN gave two weeks’ notice. And the two weeks’ notice was sick time.”

Meadow Park’s director of care, Heather Nicholas, testified in late June at the hearing that Wettlaufer had told her that she’d overdosed and had addictions to drugs and alcohol four days after the medication was delivered to the home, though she resigned just before the medication was delivered.

READ MORE: Past employers gave Wettlaufer positive reference checks, despite medication errors and co-worker complaints

Ultimately, investigators were not able to prove who took the medication and the probe ended without any finding of non-compliance on behalf of the home.

Earlier in the day, Kukoly testified that reports or complaints are assigned to one of five risk levels and each level has a different time frame attached to it.

Level one is minimum risk and level two is minimal risk or potential for actual harm; those are supposed to get assigned within 90 to 120 days.

Level three is actual risk or harm and is mandated to be inspected within 60 days.

Story continues below advertisement

Level three plus has a target date for inspection of 30 days while Level four is to be inspected immediately.

READ MORE: ‘I don’t really recall Ms. Wettlaufer,’ testified former Meadow Park administrator

Kukoly told the hearing inspectors focus on the most serious cases but struggle to inspect lower level complaints and reports on time.

“Because now that we’re doing our QIs [quality inspections] in every home, the CCF [complaint, critical incident and follow-up] is backing up. We don’t have the manpower to get all of it done.”

The inquiry is tasked with reviewing how Wettlaufer was able to get away with murdering and hurting patients for roughly 10 years.

In 2017, Wettlaufer was sentenced to life in prison without parole eligibility for 25 years after pleading guilty to eight counts of first-degree murder and six counts of attempt to commit murder for incidents between 2007 and 2016.

Story continues below advertisement

— With files from Global News Radio 980 CFPL’s Jaclyn Carbone.

Sponsored content