Metro-East News

August 27, 2014

Nurse facing drug and neglect charges could lose her license

A nurse already facing felony drug and neglect charges now faces an attempt by the state to discipline her, possibly by taking away her license.

The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation filed a complaint after Nichole Banuelos was charged with 13 counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance and two counts of neglect of a disabled person. Court records also show Banuelos spells her first name "Nicole."

Banuelos could not be reached for comment.

Banuelos, 40, of Mascoutah, worked at Midwest Rehabilitation and Nursing Center at 727 N. 17th St. in Belleville on March 21 when she fell asleep at the medication cart, the complaint stated. An investigation found that Banuelos diverted narcotics from patients, the complaint stated. Police have said that Banuelos unlawfully acquired Ritalin, hydrocodone, atropine, morphine, Ambien and Ativan on March 21. She was fired that day, according to the complaint.

She also did the same on Nov. 3 when she worked at Marka Nursing Home at 201 S. 10th St. in Mascoutah. Banuelos was terminated from Marka on Nov. 5, the complaint stated.

The neglect charges stated that Banuelos failed to feed a patient and failed to give medication to another on March 21 at Midwest Rehabilitation.

Banuelos has been a licensed practical nurse since Jan. 28, 2008. Her license expires in 2015.

No hearing date on Banuelos' license has yet been set, said Sue Hofer, Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation.

Banuelos will go before an administrative law judge to answer the complaints, Hofer said. The administrative law judge will make a recommendation to the Nursing Board, which will then make a recommendation to the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation's director.

Banuelos can also enter a consent agreement with the prosecutor in the criminal case, but the IDFPR director makes the final determination whether to accept the agreement, Hofer said.

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