On her first day of orientation as a registered nurse with West Boca Medical Center in Boca Raton on Jan. 20, Nedda Bentley took a long lunch break.
The 44-year-old was supposed to take a half-hour lunch and return to the orientation at 1:30 p.m., but by 2 p.m. she could not be accounted for.
Hospital security found Bentley near her vehicle, shaking, with an open can of beer in the center console and nine other cans of beer, three cold and six warm, in her car.
She later refused to submit to a drug and alcohol test. Hospital staff noted that she “appeared impaired,” according to a Florida Department of Health report. Bentley was also asked where she was staying for the night, she said the Florida Keys, several hours away from the Boca Raton medical center.
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In a May 15 order, the state’s Department of Health restricted Bentley, who lives in Summerland Key, according to Monroe County Property Appraiser records, from practicing as both a nurse and an emergency medical technician until an impaired practitioner program clears her as being safe to resume practice.
Bentley could not be reached for comment.
Outside of the Jan. 20 incident, Bentley admitted during a May 6 department evaluation that she has “an alcohol problem,” averaging 12 beers per day when not working. She drank alcohol before coming to the actual evaluation too, as she had a blood alcohol level of .11.
“Ms. Bentley reported that she ‘gets shakes’ and suffers from withdrawal symptoms if she does not drink alcohol,” State Surgeon General Dr. John Armstrong wrote in the report.
Bentley also admitted to using Vicodin, a pain-killer, and cocaine. Nightingale Nurses, a travel nursing agency that employed Bentley at the Boca Raton medical center, later terminated her employment.
Bentley has held her registered nurse license since September 1999 and her EMT license since October 1997.