ST MARYS — A former registered nurse at Penn Highlands Elk is accused of trading drugs and treating patients while under the influence of controlled substances.
Jacqueline Ann Babb, 36, of Harrisburg, is charged with the third degree felonies of criminal use of a communication facility and conspiracy, recklessly endangering another person and possession of a controlled substance, according to documents filed at Magisterial District Judge James Martin’s office Oct. 16.
During an encounter with Jessica Marie Smith, 39, of Ridgway, who was reportedly found to be in possession of methamphetamine and several other drugs in January, police also searched her cell phone, reportedly finding a text message between Smith and Babb. This was concerning to police, since Babb was employed as a registered nurse (RN) at Penn Highlands Elk at the time, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
Police made contact with the pharmacy director at PHE, and confirmed that Babb was in fact employed as an RN at the hospital in January 2019, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
The director allegedly found suspicious activity, with some medications being removed. The director reported another issue was that medications were being removed but not administered in a timely fashion. Some might be normal medication-passing issues, he reportedly said, but others weren’t. There were about 10 of these documented incidents since January 2019, according to the affidavit.
Police discovered neither Smith or Babb had any “schedule II” controlled substances prescribed to them during 2018 or thus far in 2019.
After further reviewing Smith’s text messages, police alleged that she was buying, selling and trading prescription medications and methamphetamine with nine other people, including Babb. Some of the drug deals allegedly went on using a hospital phone number.
The text messages also reportedly showed that Smith had someone drive her to PHE for a drug deal, where Babb allegedly directed her to a side door, and said, “I’ll leave the door cracked so you can walk in, okay?”
When police attempted to interview Babb at PHE in April, they were told she was no longer employed there. Police were granted a search warrant for her schedule and employment file in June, and found a number of text messages that allegedly showed drug activities had allegedly taken place while she was employed there, according to the affidavit of probable cause.
During an interview with Elk County Detective Gregg McManus Sept. 3, Babb reportedly confessed that Smith was supplying her with methamphetamine, and at least three transactions occurred when she was working at the hospital, according to the affidavit of probable cause. She also admitted to providing patient care while under the influence of controlled substances.
Babb waived her preliminary hearing at Magisterial District Judge James L. Martin’s office Oct. 16, and is scheduled for formal arraignment at the Elk County Court of Common Pleas Nov. 4.