A nurse accused of creating a phony paper trail to cover up her neglect of a patient who died in a Veteran’s Affairs hospital was arrested Monday by the state Inspector General’s office.
Cheryl A. Poirrier, 58, of LaPlace, faces four counts of filing false public records and two counts of malfeasance in office, according to an Inspector General report. Poirrier was booked into the St. John the Baptist parish jail, Inspector General Stephen Street said in a news release issued Monday.
The arrest comes some eight months after David LaCerte, then the head of the state Department of Veterans Affairs, resigned in October in the wake of Inspector General probes into nursing home conditions. Later that month, Todd Christopher Price, the director of the Louisiana Veterans Home in Jackson, was arrested after being accused of destroying records about patients falling out of beds.
Poirrier, a licensed practical nurse working at the Southeast Louisiana War Veterans Home in Reserve, was the on-duty nurse supervising patients in a particular unit of the facility in January 2015, the report says.
On Jan. 8, 2015 at about 9:20 p.m., a nursing assistant discovered a patient who’d fallen onto the floor, unsupervised, with his wheelchair on top of him, according to the report.
Poirrier responded to the man, who complained of back and head pain, and helped put him back on his bed, the report says.
Louisiana Department of Veterans Affairs policy says that when patients fall while unsupervised, the incidents are to be considered possible head injuries. The falls require nurses to perform neurological checkups on the patients every fifteen minutes for the first hour after the fall and every hour for the next four hours, followed by another checkup during each shift for the remainder of the 72 hours after the fall, according to the report.
But Poirrier, the Inspector General’s office alleges, didn’t perform any “neuro checks” on the man. Instead, she took numerous smoke breaks on a smoking porch just 30 feet from the patient’s room over the course of her shift that night, the report says.
Eight hours after the fall, about 5:15 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2015, the patient was discovered dead, according to the report.
After the death, Poirrier filed four false “neuro checks” to make it look like she’d checked on the man at 9:35 p.m., 9:50 p.m. and 10:20 p.m. on Jan. 8, 2015, and at 2:20 a.m. the next morning, the report alleges. Investigators found the phony records were actually created between 7:40 a.m. and 7:48 a.m. on Jan. 9, 2015, which was after the patient’s death was discovered, the report says.
Porrier, of 605 Bluebonnet Court in LaPlace, could not immediately be reached for comment Monday morning.