Puyallup, Washington, police suspect 31-year-old registered nurse Cora Weberg of intentionally infecting at least two patients of Good Samaritan Hospital with the hepatitis C virus, as well as stealing drugs.
While her mother protested that Cora “wouldn’t hurt a bug,” law enforcement has recommended that Pierce County prosecutors charge Weberg with second-degree assault. Puyallup police spokesman Ryan Portmann said that the department “[feels] confident” that they have “probable cause.”
The nurse was reportedly arrested last Friday at “the U.S.-Canada border as she headed for a long-planned trip to Guam with her boyfriend.”
Defense attorney Bryan Hershman says that Weberg denies infecting patients and maintains that she did not use needles on patients if she had used them herself. Hospital leadership does claim, however, that she admitted to stealing the drugs. However, the initial police findings seem to contradict earlier accounts by those leaders.
According to the police, Weberg “intentionally contaminated medicine or another substance with her own blood; she then administered the medicine or other substance intravenously; Cora Weberg knew or reasonably should have known that her blood was likely to contain one or more blood-borne pathogens; and Cora Weberg’s blood did, in fact, contain and transmit Hepatitis C virus.” But hospital officials said that Weberg was “surprised” to learn she had hepatitis C in the first place.
Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department Communicable Disease Control Division Director Nigel Turner seemed less certain. When asked whether he thought Weberg spread the disease or merely contracted it, he said it was “a good question,” but he thinks “that’s something that we would ask during the investigation.”
Defense attorney Hershmann is similarly unconvinced: “On the one hand, my heart goes out to these infected people. On the other hand, this investigation has been going on for months. If there was a genetic link between these patients and Cora, you would certainly think it would be definitively announced or released by the Department of Health and that hasn’t happened yet,” he said. “This is this woman’s life. This is a terrible allegation. I hope we all stand back and take a deep breath and really look at what the evidence says.”
In the meantime, the hospital has released a public safety alert for 2,600 patients of the Good Samaritan Emergency Department who were treated between August 4, 2017, and March 23, 2018. The News Tribune further reports that “hundreds” of patients are being tested, though the hospital has yet to release the results.