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      Samaritan Hospital takes action following 4 arrests in a narcotics scandal

      Following the arrest last week of four nurses involved in an apparent prescription drug scandal, administrators at Samaritan Medical Center in Watertown are sending out assurances that they "will not tolerate this type of behavior."

      Hospital spokesperson Krista Kittle made that assertion to reporters at a news conference in Watertown on Monday afternoon. She and Brian O'Hearn, Vice President of Patient Care Services, emphasized their proactive medication auditing system brought this situation to light.

      Four nurses at the Samaritan Medical Center â?? one full time nurse and three traveling nurses â?? were arrested last week for illegally dispensing drugs. Those arrested were: Carson F. Fanning, Patricia A. Shea, Heather Graham, and Dawn Harrison.

      O'Hearn pointed out from the moment they suspected the nurses were allegedly tampering and illegaly dispensing medication, Samaritan Hopsital immediately notified the Bureau of Narcotics, which brought in the New York State Police.

      O'Hearn told reporters it is unknown whether the nurses were selling the drugs or taking them for their own personal use. He says the hospital has taken measures to complete its investigation and work with human resources in regards to Carson Fanning, the one full time nurse who is now suspended. The Samaritan Medical Center tells us the travel nurses were immediately fired.

      They have begun an education program with the staff on signs of possible drug abuse among employees. O'Hearn is also holding out the possibilty of random drug sampling of hair samples among the staff members.

      He calls the problem of "narcotics diversion" a nationwide problem that could involve up to 10% of nurses across the country.