A former nurse who accepted thousands of dollars, gifts and inheritance from two elderly patients she looked after will pay for her misdeeds.
Laurie Jeanne Tinkham of Nanaimo was ordered to pay more than $30,000 in fines and legal fees after an investigation by the College of Registered Nurses of British Columbia concluded that she financially exploited an infirm elderly couple.
According to a recently published decision by the CRNBC, Tinkham cared for an elderly couple, known only as M.W. and P.W., from 2010 until 2013. Between 2012 and 2013, Tinkham received more than $11,000 in cashed cheques from M.W.’s bank account, became power of attorney in relation to the couple’s financial matters, became a joint owner in the mobile home that she was living in with the couple and when the elderly couple died, the title of the mobile home was transferred to Tinkham, who retained ownership of it, according to the CRNBC decision.
The nurses’ college became aware of Tinkham’s actions in January 2013 from a Vancouver Island Health Authority employee, who had also been providing services to M.W. and P.W. and discovered what was happening. Shortly afterward, the college began conducting its own investigation and a series of hearings spanning until 2017.
According to the decision, Tinkham sent the nurses’ college a letter admitting to having power of attorney for M.W. as well as having a “very unusual” agreement with M.W. and P.W., which resulted in the elderly couple paying her $800 a month in return for services. The letter also stated that she received benefits through the “use of a trailer” as well as having her dental, optical and rent expenses paid for by the couple. M.W. also paid for prescription drugs for the nurse. Tinkham later told a CRNBC investigator that she considered M.W. a “very close” friend and that she received extra payments from him because she was “a few hundred dollars short” each month, the decision said. M.W.
The CRNBC’s decision said Tinkham failed to maintain proper boundaries with her clients and that her actions severely violate professional nursing standards. Tinkham was ordered to pay a $17,500 fine, plus pay the CRNBC’s court costs, which amounted to $16,535. Tinkham is also banned from reapplying to become a registered nurse in British Columbia for five years. The CRNBC stated the penalties imposed are intended to send a “strong message” to nurses and the public that such conduct will not be tolerated.
Tinkham has not been a registered nurse since 2013.