A woman who reportedly posed as a nurse at Davita Dialysis on South Washington Avenue, in Marshall, was recently indicted on fraudulent use/possession of identifying information and two counts of nursing regulations.
According to her indictment, the defendant, Stephanie Garcia, on March 6, 2017, with intent to harm or defraud another, used less than five items of identifying information - specifically a registered nurse license number - by placing it on a job application. The indictment further notes that on July 10, 2017, and July 16, 2017, Garcia intentionally or knowingly practiced professional nursing without a license.
The case came to the Harrison County District Attorney’s office right before Christmas, last year, when the Texas Board of Nursing notified the DA of the alleged impersonation following an investigation of Garcia. The investigation was prompted by the complaint of Judy Webb, a former patient.
The DA’s office subsequently turned the case over to Marshall Police Department, in January, for further criminal investigation. Due to a conflict of interest, District Attorney Coke Solomon recused himself from the case, and attorney Rick Hurlburt was appointed to serve as special prosecutor.
Board of Nursing investigation
The Texas Board of Nursing revealed its findings of its investigation in its January 2018 newsletter bulletin and warned the public about Garcia along with other reported imposters throughout the state.
“In May 2016, Stephanie Garcia, also known as Stephanie Halcomb, obtained employment as a registered nurse (RN) at a dialysis facility in the Marshall, Texas, area using the RN licensure information of a nurse having the same name and by submitting an application which contained falsified employment history as a RN dating back to August 2011,” The board reported in its January 2018 newsletter bulletin.
“In May 2017 through October 2017, Stephanie Garcia was promoted as a registered nurse and practiced as the facility administrator,” the nursing board added. “The board’s investigation revealed that the date of birth, Social Security number and address information provided by Stephanie Garcia to the facility did not belong to any nurse having a license or privilege to practice nursing in the state of Texas.”
Davita Dialysis emailed an official statement to The Marshall News Messenger, at the time, confirming that Garcia no longer worked there, and that the agency had also launched an investigation after learning of the allegation.
“The individual is suspected of falsifying information to illegally obtain employment,” Kevin Downey with Davita Dialysis’s corporate office in Denver indicated.
Judy Webb, the patient who complained to the state nursing board about Garcia, told The Marshall News Messenger in a telephone interview on Friday that she has mixed emotions upon hearing the news of Garcia’s indictment.
“Why I said that is I feel if Davita would have actually investigated her like they do every other nurse, I feel like she couldn’t have been able to creep through the cracks like that and affect other patients,” Webb said.
Webb, a Shreveport, La., resident said she was receiving treatment at Davita in Marshall because it was more convenient for her since she had family here and was also attending college here. The ordeal has been so alarming that it’s hard for her to trust anyone with her healthcare.
“Although she’s been indicted, I’m still suffering — to be honest — mentally,” Webb said.
“This has really caused me a lot of anxiety to the point to I’m just not comfortable with no one when I’m on dialysis and even off dialysis,” said Webb. “It’s just really very hard not knowing if I’m dealing with another fake nurse.”
“I’ve had my nurses tell me, ‘sit back and relax.’ I’m making them uncomfortable because I’m uncomfortable. I’m presuming they are real,” she said.
The situation has caused her to have many sleepless nights, she shared.
“I‘m having to endure, still endure and have my family see me endure and seeing me suffer,” said Webb.
Webb was pressed to report Garcia to the state nursing board after multiple questionable encounters with the employee.
“I had to endure an 18-inch rod going through my neck several times. She assisted me before the surgery. In order to deal with the catheter you have to be a licensed nurse,” Webb said, explaining that the catheter goes through the jugular vein and lies at the tip of the heart. “There’s a particular way you have to do those catheters. She wasn’t doing those right.”
It still baffles the former patient that someone could be that thoughtless to step into a dialysis facility that treats patients with chronic illnesses, knowing that they aren’t qualified to deal with critical needs such as initiating treatment, connecting catheters and administering medications.
“When I saw she couldn’t answer a lot of questions, I then became alarmed, and she did not know what to do when I crashed,” Webb said, recalling how Garcia reportedly refused to honor the orders of Webb’s cardiologist.
Because Webb is also a heart patient, her heart doctor gave an order, on May 23, 2017, not to do dialysis for more than four hours because it could cause too much stress on her heart. On July 10, 2017, Garcia reportedly ignored the cardiologist’s orders, causing Webb to pass out.
“That’s what made my husband and I reach out to the board of nursing,” said Webb. “As a retired fireman he saw right off the bat she did not know what she was doing.”
The Webbs filed the complaint on Aug. 23, 2017. Webb said she has no regrets; she just wishes she would’ve filed sooner.
“I really feel if DaVita would’ve paid $30 to pull her nursing license or whatever the fee it is and did a background, a lot of this could have been prevented,” said Webb. “All of this could have been prevented because she (didn’t need to be there).”
Webb said people still are in disbelief that her care was in the hands of an alleged imposter. The belief is so intense sometimes that she’s been looked at as the villain instead of the victim, she said.
“A lot of people don’t believe this fake nurse (situation) happened,” said Webb. “Everybody’s looking at me one-sided.”
She has, however, found peace in knowing that some dialysis centers have used her situation as a learning tool, cracking down on their background checks.
“The deal with somebody already on dialysis is they are already fighting for their lives and already dealing with an acute illness; why add more to them?” Webb said.
“I’m relieved to a degree,” she said of Garcia’s indictment.
“But like I said … more than me got hurt,” Webb said, expounding how it’s a sad situation for all parties involved.
Others indicted by the grand jury for the end of the November term were:
- Dillon Boyt Vowell, 17, two counts of aggravated robbery;
- Sam V. Smith, 19, two counts of aggravated robbery
- Jacovan Jkeil Clayborn, 17, theft of a firearm;
- Demarcus Dejuan McCowan, 17, theft of a firearm;
- Charles Ray Mason, 30, theft of a firearm;
- Irina Amirovna Wiggins, 59, unauthorized use of a vehicle;
- Jacob Eugene Morton, 35, unauthorized use of a vehicle;
- Gary Wayne Scott, 33, theft of property more than or equal to $2,500, but less than $30,000;
- Christopher Jake Ward Sellers, 32, driving while intoxicated with a child younger than age 15;
- Charles Edward Dawson, 36, two counts of driving while intoxicated with a child younger than age 15;
- Ezekiel Zechariah Malachi Joyner, 24, two counts of driving while intoxicated with a child younger than age 15;
- Randall Cooper Wells, 19, possession of a controlled substance, prohibited weapon;
- Christopher Lamar Alexander, 44, possession of a controlled substance;
- Stacy Dewayne Hayes, 44, possession of a controlled substance;
- Paul Cedric Ward, 37, possession of a controlled substance;
- Adrian Rashad Ward, 30, possession of a controlled substance;
- Gerald Keith Brown, 60, possession of a controlled substance;
- Xzavier Jarkivon Jackson, 18, possession of a controlled substance;
- Ronald Lee Rhodes, 40, possession of a controlled substance;
- Weston Colt Johnston, 35, possession of a controlled substance;
- Randy Wayne Surratt, 39, possession of a controlled substance;
- Payton James Triche, 23, possession of a controlled substance.