In Puyallup Washington, about 30 miles south of Seattle, police suggested to Pierce County prosecutors to charge 31- year old nurse Cora Weberg with second- degree assault claiming she knowingly infected at least two patients with hepatitis C.
Hepatitis C is a viral infection that causes liver inflammation, and can lead to serious/deadly liver damage. Up until recent breakthroughs, hepatitis C required weekly injections and oral medication.
The hospital said it informed two patients who got treatment from Weberg in December 2017 that they were infected with the disease while getting treatment there. Multicare Health System urged people who visited that emergency room between August 2017 and March 2018 to be tested to ensure no more people were affected by this scandal, and for general health as well.
She was arrested at the Canadian border as she was about to travel to Guam for a previously planned vacation with her boyfriend. She was brought into the Pierce County Jail early on Friday after her arrest by the Puyallup police though not yet charged with any crime.
Webergs mother, Eunice Weberg, is a registered nurse and claims, “She wouldn’t hurt a bug” at the news conference on Friday afternoon.
Ryan Portmann, Puyallup police spokesman also said on Friday that detectives have yet to interview Weberg at the time of arrest but claim they have copious cause to detain her. “We feel confident we have probable cause,” Portmann said. He also told investigators, “we would have liked to have developed some more evidence but we were working under a time crunch with her leaving the country.”
The initial police statements states she “intentionally contaminated medicine or another substance with her own blood; she then administered the medicine intravenously; Cora Weberg knew or reasonably should have known that her blood was likely to contain one or more blood- borne pathogens; and Cora Webergs blood did, in fact, contain and transmit Hepatitis C virus.”
On the other hand, the first statements filed by police for probable cause conflicts with some of the first statements made by hospital leaders claiming that when first told by state investigators that she was positive for the virus, Weberg was surprised.
Hepatitis is also known to be a “silent” infection meaning it’s hard to tell that you’re infected until the liver gets damaged enough for symptoms to be noticed. Weberg also reportedly said her exposure to hepatitis C was not strong enough to have the ability to infect others.
The News Tribune reported that the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department has found a link in the viruses DNA between the two patients, however, they were also unable to establish a conclusive genetic link between Weberg and the patients.
Bryan Hershman, her defense attorney, said she claims false accusations. Hospital leaders also claimed she admitted that she did take injectable drugs from the MultiCare Good Samaritan Hospital but also states that she did not use the same needles on the patients that she had used on herself.
Hershman believes that the hospital is afraid of civil litigation case and are looking to pin it on his client Cora due to her past narcotics issues.
“They can draw no connection to my client, none, and they’ve tried. What they know is that they are facing civil litigation and they’ve gotta find a scapegoat. What better person than a person who has got some narcotics issues, right?” Hershman stated to KCPQ-TV.
Hershman said he hasn’t seen any evidence to show Webergs intent. “In the Pierce County jail there is a young lady in a suicide smock who is an outstanding nurse.” He states, “On 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 the patients and Cora, you would certainly think it would be definitely announced or released by the Department of Health and that hasn’t happened yet.”
“This is a woman’s life. This is a terrible allegation. I hope we all stand back and really look at what the evidence says.”
Multicare promised to provide free treatment to all those infected while at the facility.