Patient arrested after dispute over painkillers at Rockport hospital

Posted Aug. 04, 2014, at 2:49 p.m.

ROCKPORT, Maine — A Rockland man was arrested Sunday evening after police said he created a disturbance when refused painkillers at Pen Bay Medical Center.

When contacted about the incident Monday, the chief operating officer at the hospital said that beginning this fall, Pen Bay would return to having a security staff of its own.

Jay T. Carter, 22, was arrested Sunday evening and charged with theft, criminal mischief, disorderly conduct and four counts of possession of drugs. Rockport police also found an air pistol in Carter’s backpack but said that it was not used during the incident at the hospital.

Rockport Police Officer Cooper Plaisted responded to a complaint about an unruly patient at about 7 p.m. Staff said that a patient had punched a wall near the pharmacy and was creating a disturbance when he was not given the drugs he requested.

The officer located Carter in the parking lot of the hospital and said the suspect was agitated, according to an affidavit filed in Rockland District Court by Plaisted. Carter admitted to punching a hole in the wall after being refused the drugs he said he needed. The officer checked the man’s backpack and found drugs as well as some medical supplies such as bandages which Carter admitted stealing while he was in the emergency department, according to the affidavit.

The air pistol was found but when Carter was questioned about it, he became unresponsive due to an unspecified medical problem, according to the affidavit. Carter was taken back inside the hospital where he was treated for three hours before being taken to the Knox County Jail in Rockland.

He made his initial court appearance Monday. Judge Richard Mulhern set bail at $3,000 cash. Assistant District Attorney Christopher Fernald had asked for $5,000 bail, citing public safety concerns. The defense attorney for the day in court, Marina Sideris, asked for $300 bail saying that would be the most Carter could raise. She said he was given an injection for a migraine he was suffering and does not have any recollection of the events that followed.

A PBMC employee, who asked not to be identified out of concern for job security, said that staff have voiced their concerns about the safety of staff and patients from people who are under the influence of drugs and become violent. The employee said that security at the hospital was largely non-existent.

Erik Frederick, chief operating officer at Pen Bay Healthcare, said Monday that PBMC contracts with the private security firm Securitas but that starting on Oct. 1, the hospital will go back to having its own security staff. He said he prefers to employ staff rather than contracting. He said the change was something he had been planning since arriving last October.

He said he did not believe that weapons were needed at a hospital that size and that the security staff would not be armed. He said that the issues involving unruly patients at Pen Bay are the same as other hospitals around the country.

Frederick said that there were some serious concerns voiced by staff before he arrived about incidents involving patients who had used bath salts but that has not been a serious safety concern in the past year.

In October 2011, a patient went on a rampage in the hospital and caused $30,000 worth of damage. The offender was later sentenced to nine months in jail.

After that incident, the hospital paid for a police officer to be present but that arrangement lasted only a few months.

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