A pharmacy technician accused of stealing pills from St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee got her job back after a state arbitrator ruled last month that her discharge was unwarranted. Catherine E. Barstow, a 6-year employee of the hospital’s pharmacy, had been prescribed a daily dose of amitriptyline for years to manage her migraine attacks. On a Friday evening in September 2008, she realized she had only one dose remaining and her personal pharmacy near her home in Waconia couldn’t get her a refill until Monday, the mediation ruling stated.
The next morning she stopped into the hospital pharmacy to pick up some boxes and discussed the ramifications of missing two doses with the pharmacist on duty. The pharmacist testified that she was concerned for Barstow’s health and ability to work that weekend if called in suddenly and gave Barstow permission to take four tablets. Barstow stated she had seen similar permission given to doctors and nurses by pharmacists, even though the pharmacy is not licensed for retail sales.
The pharmacy’s manager, Margaret Schmidt , fired Barstow three days later for theft of the pills valued at less than 5 cents each. “Theft is theft,” Ann Glaves, the hospital’s human resources manager, stated in the findings.
The arbitrator, Thomas P. Gallagher, ruled that “what the grievant did was not a theft of any kind – because she thought she had permission to take the pills from an authorized agent of the owner of the property taken, the hospital.” Barstow’s position was reinstated with seniority and back pay.
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