Keene hospital where fentanyl went missing names new interim chief nursing officer

·3 min read

Jul. 31—Cheshire Medical Center has a new interim chief nursing officer, and a former pharmacist at the Keene hospital has reached a settlement with the state as the investigation into the disappearance of gallons of fentanyl from the facility continues.

Anne Tyrol, associate chief nursing officer at Alice Peck Day Memorial Hospital in Lebanon — is Cheshire Medical's new acting chief nursing officer, a hospital spokesman confirmed over the weekend.

Tyrol earned her Bachelor of Science at the University of New Hampshire in Durham, N.H., and her Associate Degree in nursing at Central Maine Medical Center School of Nursing in Lewiston, Maine. She holds a dual degree masters in health care administration and nursing from Saint Joseph's College of Maine as well as board certification in executive nurse practice (CENP).

Tyrol takes over for Amy Matthews, who had her license suspended by the state Board of Nursing on May 26, but the emergency suspension was vacated following a June 23 hearing "to determine whether (Matthews) presented an imminent threat to public health, safety, or welfare," according to the board.

Cheshire Medical spokesman Matthew Barone declined to say whether Matthews is still employed at the Keene hospital.

"Regarding Amy Matthews, as a matter of longstanding policy we do not comment on personnel matters for any staff members," Barone wrote in an email.

According to a previous order, the amount of fentanyl solution lost or stolen was more than 583 bags — approximately 7.7 gallons — between September 2021 and January 2022. Additional fentanyl was reported lost or stolen between April 10 and May 7, for a total loss of 7.84 gallons.

A subsequent investigation attributed 303 lost bags to nurse Alexandra Towle, who admitted to taking the solution. The remaining 280 were unaccounted for during the winter surge of COVID-19, according to the order.

Towle signed a preliminary agreement not to practice in February. She died unexpectedly on March 3.

Hospital officials developed a corrective action plan to detect diversion and avoid losses, including training of nursing and pharmacy staff and daily accounting of its controlled substances, according to the emergency order.

Cheshire Medical Center officials previously released a statement saying it is working with government agencies as part of the ongoing investigation and is working to "refine our policies and protocols regarding the secure handling" of pharmaceuticals.

Richard Crowe, a former pharmacist at Cheshire Medical Center, settled with the state Board of Pharmacy to resolve all disciplinary actions against him.

The board suspended Crowe's license on March 30, and he signed a preliminary agreement to no longer practice in April.

In the settlement agreement, Crowe admits to failing to "recognize months-long patterns" of drug loss and diversion.

The settlement agreement forbids him from working as a hospital pharmacist, though he can petition the state board to lift the restriction following three years of compliance.

Similar to the terms of a settlement reached last month with former Cheshire Medical Pharmacy Director Melissa Siciliano, Crowe is required to pay a $1,000 fine, though half the amount is suspended for three years pending successful execution of the settlement agreement.

Crowe must also participate in 16 hours of board-approved education courses within 180 days, and comply with the investigation into the hospital's loss of gallons of fentanyl.

Siciliano's license was suspended on March 30 but reinstated in April, though she has since resigned from Cheshire Medical Center.

According to settlement documents, Siciliano admitted to failing to control all drugs issued or dispensed in the pharmacy and not properly supervising employees with prescriptions.