Drugged hospital co-workers recount suffering

An Alberta court heard Tuesday from employees at a Grande Prairie hospital about the negative effects being drugged by a co-worker had on their lives.

An Alberta court heard Tuesday from employees at a Grande Prairie hospital about the negative effectsbeing drugged by a co-worker had on their lives.

In addition to the victim impact statements, the court also heard that Sarah Christine Bowes, the nurse whodrugged and stole from them, has been recently diagnosed with bipolar disorder.

Nurse Renee Maher said she became unable to sleep and feared staying home alone after she mysteriously started getting sick.

"I was actually sleeping beside the very person who was doing this to me," Maher said, as she looked over at her former co-worker.

Bowes, 27, pleaded guilty to 12 charges on Monday, including administering a noxious substance to her co-workers, using credit cards obtained through crime, and public mischief for trying to implicate someone else.

Prosecutor Morris Golden read through 16 pages of agreed-on facts, likening Bowes's case to a script from a B-movie.

"I would stay awake at night hoping that nobody would be overdosed, nobody would be given a dose of medication they were allergic to and die, nobody would kill themselves or somebody else on their way home from work," said Marie Johnson, a nursing supervisor.

"We are safe now that you are gone," she said. "All we have left to do is ask why."

The investigation began when a nurse on the fourth floor of Grande Prairie's Queen Elizabeth II Hospital reported that two fake credit card applications had been completed in her name on the internet.

Sedative found in food

The prosecutor said that food in the staff refrigerator had been tainted with sedatives. Testing identified Lorazepam, whichincludes a warning not to drive a motor vehicle.

Recreational therapist Trudy Raadik "recalled having trouble driving home after her shift and recalled driving in the opposite lane," in the statement of facts.

Bowes stole her co-workers' ID, used it toget credit cards in theirnames,then ranup$16,000 in debt. She also tried to blame other staff members, he said.

The problems began in early 2004 and abruptly stopped 17 months later, he said. Bowes was charged in March.

The defence cited a medical report diagnosing her as having bipolar disorder.

Both the Crown and defence would like to see Bowes face a two-year sentence.

Golden would like her to serve the time in jail, stressing the importance of mental clarity in a hospital environment and the "cloud of suspicion" that prevailed until charges were laid.

Defence lawyer D'Arcy DePoe said house arrest was appopriate, as Bowes poses no risk to the public and is living in her father's house inLittle Current, Ont.

Bowes will be sentenced Wednesday.

With files from the Canadian Press