UPDATE: Nurse charged for sticking fentanyl patch to courthouse for inmate
The case of a nurse accused of leaving fentanyl at the Grundy County courthouse for an inmate is highlighting the dangers of the powerful painkiller.
UPDATE: The case of a nurse accused of leaving fentanyl at the Grundy County courthouse for an inmate is highlighting the dangers of the powerful painkiller.
41-year-old, Heather Hodge and the inmate face charges in the case.
Hodge's charges include Schedule II drugs possession, possession without a prescription, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to introduce contraband to a penal facility. The inmate's include conspiracy to introduce contraband in a penal facility.
TBI agents Channel 3 spoke with said fentanyl is 30 to 100 times stronger than morphine.
Just a small dose can be deadly, which is why many are relieved the dangerous drug didn't fall into the wrong hands.
TBI Special Agent In Charge, Tommy Farmer took a look at the surveillance video on Wednesday.
You see a woman placing something in the door frame at the Grundy County courthouse. Investigators said it was a fentanyl patch meant to be picked up by an inmate who was in court last Friday.
"I don't have any words. Reckless is an understatement," Tommy Farmer, Special Agent in Charge for the TBI said.
The prescription drug is for people with chronic pain.
Farmer now said it's one of the top painkillers that's being abused and leading to countless overdose cases. It can be absorbed through the skin or be airborne.
"The inmate nowadays with all the diversion, with all the abuse that we're seeing, the inmate, I'm going to say, the inmate is wanting to get high on it or sell it," Farmer said.
Deputies said surveillance video from the courthouse helped identify this woman as Heather Hodge. Investigators said Hodge admitted to the act, but mentioned she was instructed by an inmate to leave it there.
State Department of Health records show she has a nursing license.
Officials with Mountain Medical Clinic of the Southern Tennessee Regional Health System issued a statement on Wednesday.
"Mountain Medical is committed to providing high quality care and service to our patients. We take any allegation related to an employee very seriously and cooperate fully with the investigating authorities.
Due to confidentiality, we cannot provide information related to this situation or any employee matter. Thank you for understanding."
"I lose any sympathy or empathy that I may have had especially with somebody that has training and that knows exactly what they're doing and knows exactly what the hazards are," Farmer said.
The Tennessee Department of Health said Hodge's nursing license expires next March.
It'll be up to the board of nursing on whether she keeps it.
Officials with the clinic said Hodge is on leave pending the outcome of the investigation. She's expected to be in court next month.
Grundy County Sheriff's Office has arrested a woman for leaving the drug fentanyl stuck to a door facing at the courthouse.
41-year old, Heather Michelle Hodge, was charged Monday after being identified on courthouse surveillance video. The incident occurred last Friday.
In the video, Hodge can be seen in the video sticking a fentanyl patch to a courthouse door and then removing it and attaching it to another entrance that inmates are transported through.
Officials say Hodge admitted to the crime when questioned by deputies. She told them she was instructed by an inmate to leave it there.
She's been charged with Schedule II drugs possession, possession without a prescription, reckless endangerment and conspiracy to introduce contraband to a penal facility. Hodge does not have a bond and is scheduled to appear in court on August 8. Hodge is a licensed practical nurse.