2 women charged with stealing drugs from Greensburg hospital, office

| Friday, Oct. 18, 2013, 12:01 a.m.

Two women have been charged with diverting pain medicine from a Greensburg hospital and a city doctor's office for personal or family use, officials said on Thursday.

Kayleigh Matus, 25, of Mt. Pleasant Township, a registered nurse, and Kimberly L. Bair, 50, of Jeannette were arraigned in separate cases before Greensburg District Judge James Albert.

Both women confessed when confronted with the allegations, investigators from the state Attorney General's Office said.

Matus was charged with placing vials of hydromorphone in an area outside Excela Health Westmoreland Hospital in July and August with plans to use them.

On Aug. 7, an emergency room technician spotted two vials in grass near steps in the employee parking lot and reported them to hospital security, investigators said.

Security found the vials were empty, and a review was begun to determine whether medications were missing from the hospital, authorities said.

Matus had worked in the emergency department on Aug. 6, finishing at 11 p.m., investigators said.

On Aug. 7, Matus told hospital personnel “that for the past one to three months she had been diverting hydromorphone from the hospital for her personal use, including the vials that were found in the parking lot earlier that morning,” an affidavit said.

Matus had removed the drug in “multiple instances” from an automated dispensing system, duplicating withdrawals made for patients, it said. At times, Matus claimed vials had been broken, investigators said.

An audit could not account for 10, 1-milliliter vials of the drug, investigators said.

Hospital officials terminated Matus' employment on Aug. 19, according to court papers.

In the other case, authorities accused Bair of diverting hydrocodone tablets for her husband from February 2010 to last August while she worked as office manager for Dr. George Austin, a surgeon with an office on Shearer Street.

U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration officials identified Austin's practice as obtaining “large quantities” of hydrocodone from a medical supply distributor, investigators said. Records showed 3,500 tablets — seven orders of 500-count bottles of pain medicine — were ordered between Feb. 18, 2010, and May 30.

The shipments bore Austin's name and went to Bair, authorities said. An affidavit said that “these drugs would be used to give surgical patients a small quantity after surgery until they can get their prescriptions filled.”

Confronted Aug. 13 by investigators, Bair denied any knowledge of wrongdoing and said she would relay information to the doctor when he returned from vacation.

On Sept. 4, Austin said he “never dispensed controlled substances to patients directly,” investigators said. Austin added that Bair told him she had given tablets to her husband to manage pain caused by medical ailments, according to court records.

That same day, Bair confessed she ordered the drugs for her husband because his “prescribed medication became unavailable,” and she ordered them from the medical supplier to save money, investigators said.

Bair said she kept the medicine in a locked cabinet and would take 50 to 60 tablets home for her husband, who used two to four pills daily, authorities said.

Randy Bair later admitted his wife had brought him the drug for the past three years, authorities said.

“He explained that it was cheaper to get the drug through her work and that he thought all the medication he received from her had been authorized by Dr. Austin,” the affidavit said.

Bair, who is free on $10,000 unsecured bond, and Matus, who is free on $5,000 unsecured bond, are scheduled for preliminary hearings on Nov. 7 before Albert.

Bob Stiles is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 724-836-6622 or bstiles@tribweb.com.

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