FIRCREST, Wash. – The nurse at the center of a hepatitis C scare in Pierce County is fighting back against allegations she infected two patients and put thousands more at risk.
Cora Weberg spoke to members of the media during a press conference at an attorney's office in Fircrest. Weberg says she’s been cooperating fully with investigators and her attorneys claim she could never have been the source of hepatitis C that infected two MultiCare Good Samaritan patients and prompted thousands more to be tested.
Weberg does admit to taking discarded drugs but it’s because, she says, she planned to use them to take her own life.
Her attorneys claim she was distraught over the stress of her job, that the demands of dealing with sick and dying patients drove her to try to commit suicide not once but multiple times.
Weberg also insists she never reused contaminated needles and she denies ever having hepatitis C that could be transmitted.
“As of this very moment, I do not believe that I’m a contagious carrier of hepatitis C,” Weberg said.
“These allegations which led to my arrest on Thursday evening have led to the darkest days of my life,” she said.
Puyallup Police arrested Weberg last Friday at the Canadian border on a pre-planned trip, but she was released from jail. The county prosecutor has yet to charge her with a crime but still could, depending on what investigators discover. However, her attorneys believe police and public health officials are looking for a scapegoat.
“Are these investigators, was the law enforcement, department of health, as Pierce County health department: Were they incompetent or dishonest?” asked Bryan Hersman, Weberg’s attorney. “I think those are the two options.”
Public health officials says the two initial patients under Weberg’s care tested positive for DNA-linked strains of hepatitis C.
The state nursing commission on Monday suspended Weberg’s license, saying that in December 2017, the nurse administered hydromorphine and fentanyl, both controlled substances, to two patients in the emergency department at Good Sam Hospital. Both patients were later admitted with symptoms consistent with hepatitis and tested positive for hepatitis C.
Weberg and her attorney claim she never had hepatitis C, saying she passed an initial blood test when the investigation began, and a second blood test later proved to be inconclusive if she had the virus.
“Apparently there is a very low level of a pathogen in my blood that can constitute hepatitis C but not at the low levels found in my blood,” Weberg said.
The investigation began in the summer of 2017. MultiCare says they believe Weberg stole drugs but doesn’t know how the two patients contracted the disease.
Weberg claims she only took drugs that had been discarded and never used needles that had been once used by herself or patients.
Weberg’s attorneys also claim investigators ignored her written answers to questions posed by health officials and instead claimed she, in fact, did have the virus and potentially exposed patents who had visited the Good Samaritan ER for more than 6 months.
Her attorneys also say that’s impossible because Weberg was a regular blood donor.
“They’ve been investigating it for months; we simply called the Red Cross,” said Hershman. “Did she donate blood, was it clean? The answer is in the affirmative. Why didn’t they do that instead of just engaging in rank conjecture?”
Puyallup Police responded to Thursday’s press conference, telling Q13 News the department will continue their investigation whereever the facts lead.
MultiCare says their employees will remain focused on the 1,000 people who have already taken advantage of free testing since this hepatitis C scare broke last month.