'People think I'm a monster': Campbell River nurse responds to allegations of medicine theft
CAMPBELL RIVER -- A woman who worked as a nurse in Campbell River's hospital and found herself at the centre of drug-dispensing controversy has responded to the allegations against her in an exclusive interview with CTV News on Oct. 29.
Amanda Parniak is accused by the BC College of Nurses and Midwives of improperly accessing drugs from October 2017 to March of 2018 while she worked at the hospital.
Documents connected with the investigation that the college conducted looked at 36 different instances. Island Health claims Parniak contravened protocols, withdrew narcotics for the same patient just minutes apart, diverted narcotics from patients or withdrew narcotics while not on duty. All of the allegations surrounded the pain-killing narcotic hydromorphone, which is an opioid.
In 22 of those cases the college found the actions constituted 'unprofessional conduct' or breaches of acts of various standards or practices. A panel dismissed the other allegations.
CTV News located Parniak working in another profession in Indonesia and in a 13-minute, often tearful phone interview, the former nurse explained what happened and denied she diverted drugs.
"I can't prove that I didn't do anything except for straight character. Anybody that knows me knows that I always put the patient first, even if they weren't mine," Parniak said.
She admitted her paperwork skills weren't the best and says although documentation was supposed to be filled throughout the performance of her nursing shift, she often wasn't able to get to it until sometimes 10 hours later.
"When you're in nursing school that's the one thing they tell you is you need to document because if you don't document you didn't do it. And that's the one thing I (messed) up more than anything and it wrecked my life," she said. "But I never thought anyone would think I was a drug addict."
Parniak says she was working exhausting shifts which led to the problem.
"I was all over the place and between working in wards I was also training to be a clinical coordinator. So literally I was working six days a week and sometimes more, 12 to 18 hours a day," she said.
"I worked my butt off but I didn't document and honestly that is the worst thing you can do as a nurse and I (messed) all that up and I ruined my life."
The college conducted a three-day hearing on the matter from Feb. 12 to 14 in Vancouver. The college called four witnesses, including the hospital's Site Director, a colleague of Parniak's, the Manger of Pharmacy Services at Island Health and an investigator assigned to an original complaint against Parniak.
Parniak did not attend the hearing, nor was she represented.
"I couldn't prove anything, I was so scared," she said.
"I don't know how to prove that I'm not that person, I didn't know what to do. I didn't even want to live really," she said.
Parniak says she knows many in the community are upset with her actions, with some messaging her, "I can't believe you did this," which led her to dropping her social media accounts. But she says she understands some of the anger directed against her.
Brenda Fedi says her brother Wayne was in the hospital dying from cancer in November 2017 and fears his care may have been compromised. She doesn't know for sure, saying she's been trying to get answers to that question but hasn't been able to.
The college's report only gives initials of patients that they believe Parniak was supposed to be getting drugs for. Fedi spotted W.F. amongst those patients listed and fears it may represent her brother.
She believes Parniak should face criminal charges for her actions.
"To have someone steal his pain meds at the end of his life is beyond atrocious," Fedi said.
Parniak maintains that she is innocent, though she understands people’s anger.
"People think I'm a monster, " she said. "I get it, I probably would have thought the same thing. I'm not that person."
As for the accusation she was taking the drugs for her own personal use:
"Absolutely not. I don't do drugs, I'm not a partier, I don't do drugs – 100 per cent not," she said.
Parniak says the ordeal has ruined her life and she loved and misses nursing and her coworkers, whom she apologizes to.
"I'm just sorry that any of this has happened or any of the bad publicity," she said.
The college says Parniak cannot practice nursing in the province and is not sure when a ruling on her actual discipline will occur.
The RCMP say there are no charges and no criminal investigation involving Parniak. None of the allegations against Parniak have been proven in court.