Former nurse gets prison for forced druggings

Former nurse gets prison for forced druggings

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KBAK/KBFX) — The final defendant was sentenced Wednesday for drugging nursing home patients against their will, resulting in three deaths.

Former director of nursing Gwen Hughes took a plea deal and was sentenced in Kern County court to three years in prison. Her nursing license was also revoked.

Three other people - Dr. Hoshang Pormir, former pharmacist Debbi Hayes and hospital administrator Pamela Ott - were prosecuted in the case. All worked for Kern Valley Healthcare District's skilled nursing facility in Lake Isabella.

Medical complications, including lethargy and the inability to eat or drink properly, resulted from the forced medications, according to prosecutors. The patients who died were 91-year-old Mae Brinkley, 76-year-old Joseph Shepter and 85-year-old Alexander Zaiko.

Former nursing chief Hughes, starting in 2006, allegedly ordered staff to give high doses of psychotropic medications to Alzheimer's and other dementia patients to make them more tranquil and easier to control. Hughes allegedly ordered the medications be given to patients who argued with her, made noise or were otherwise disruptive.

Hayes, Ott and Pormir all received probation.