The chief flight nurse for Florida Keys Trauma Star helicopter air ambulance was suspended from duty following “discrepancies” found in the chopper’s controlled substance logs, Monroe County announced Tuesday.
The Miami Herald confirmed the employee is Lynda Rusinowski, 56, who’s worked for the county since February 2017.
“The risk was identified and isolated without any disruption of service to our community or the Trauma Star operation,” Monroe County Fire Chief Steve Hudson said in a statement. “We took swift action and do not condone any misconduct from our employees. Trauma Star will continue to provide our community the highest quality of service.”
Rusinowski, 56, could not immediately be reached for comment by telephone or email.
Monroe County spokeswoman Kristen Livengood said Rusinowski, whose annual salary is $76,907.90, is using her personal leave benefits during her suspension while the fire department investigates the case.
The Monroe County Sheriff’s Office is also conducting a criminal investigation, agency spokesman Adam Linhardt said.
Neither the fire department nor sheriff’s office would comment on details of the case, nor whether it focused on missing drugs, as sources have told the Miami Herald.
The county issued a press release saying the fire rescue department received an anonymous tip last week “and took immediate action upon discovering documentation discrepancies in the Trauma Star controlled substance logs.”
“The prompt investigation resulted in the immediate removal of an employee from duty,” the statement reads.
The statement also says the fire rescue department “immediately implemented improvements to the documentation process for a more secure controlled substance tracking module.”
According to Florida Department of Health records, Rusinowski’s medical career began when she became a registered nurse in 1990. She is also an advanced practice registered nurse, and she received both emergency medical technician and paramedic certification in 2013.
Her record shows no disciplinary actions.
This is not the first time there has been issues with Trauma Star’s controlled substance logs.
In October 2013, the fire rescue department discovered vials of morphine and an intravenous anesthetic called Etomidate were missing from the drug storage room in the helicopter’s hangar.
An investigation into discrepancies found in the controlled substance log led to the discovery that the drugs were missing. A flight medic in charge of the log when the drugs went missing was suspended without pay as a result of the lost medication.
In 2010, an EMT captain assigned to Trauma Star removed unspecified medical supplies from the hangar to administer medical aid to local volunteer firefighter at his home.
Both instances were made public after a series of stories by the Miami Herald/FLKeysnews.com into the missing drugs and removed supplies.