Judge Rejects Sentence For Drug-Using Surgery Tech
Parker's Sentence To Be Decided At Future Hearing
Last Updated: 1220 days ago
A sentencing deal for the drug-addicted surgery technician who exposed thousands of people to hepatitis C has been rejected. A federal judge in Denver rejected the sentence Friday for Kristen Diane Parker. Parker was expected to get 20 years in prison for stealing syringes filled with a painkiller from operating carts at Rose Medical Center in Denver and the Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs. U.S. District Judge Robert E. Blackburn said the sentence "unreasonably" restricted his sentencing prerogative and didn't incorporate the input of the alleged victims. "We felt all along that 20 years was insufficient," said a man who asked not to be identified or videotaped, but who is married to oa 43-year-old mother of three kids who now has Hepatitis C. "It's been devastating. She is a healthy mother of three young children. The psychological impact on our entire family has just been huge. I think she (Parker) should spend life in prison." The 27-year-old pleaded guilty in September of last year."She's devastated," Parker's attorney Gregory Graf said of his client. "And she was emotionally prepared to have that sentence today and that rug was pulled out from underneath her. So I wasn't able to really communicate with her in a meanigful way that she understands and I think the judge was wise in allowing her a week or two to contemplate her options and go forth." Now, a status hearing will be set within a couple of weeks, Blackburn said, at which time Parker could keep her guilty plea active and take her chances that Blackburn might give her a longer sentence. Parker could also withdraw her guilty plea and take the case to trial, Blackburn said. Lauren Lollini, a former Rose Medical Center patient whose hepatitis C was linked to Parker, said the judge's decision was a shock but a pleasant surprise. "Twenty years isn't enough," said Lollini, 41. "Twenty years isn't even a year for each of her victims." "As far as I'm concerned, when you take a life you have a life sentence. You're taking 36 lives, you deserve 36 years or more, heh, for each one," said Par Criscito. Several victims said it was far too easy for Parker to switch the syringes. "They really don't want their tragedy to be in vain," said Hollynd Hoskins, a lawyer who represents 13 victims. "This is a wake-up call to make sure patient safety is a priority. It's a catalyst for change.""The victim issues are vitally important in this case and we will continue to work closely with them to ensure their voices are heard," U.S. Attorney David Gaouette said in a statement after the hearing. The State Health Department has confirmed 17 cases of Hep C being directly contracted from Parker and linked by viral sequencing, all coming from Rose Medical Center. Another three cases from Audubon Surgery Center in Colorado Springs are positive but with an indeterminate connection. Six others from Rose are positive and epidemiologically linked to Parker.
More May Have Contracted Hep C At Rose Hospital
There may be many more patients who contracted hepatitis C after undergoing surgery at Rose Medical Center that was previously thought.7News has learned that the Colorado Department of Health and Rose Medical Center ruled out dozens of patients as victims of Parker.Several of the patients tested positive for a different strain of hepatitis C than Parker had, but claim because Parker confessed to giving other drug users access to hospital needles and then bringing the syringes back to the hospital, it is possible they were infected with separate strains.Erica is a Rose patient who asked that 7News protect her identity by using a different name. She believes she contracted hepatitis C after undergoing operations at Rose on days when Parker was working. But tests conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that Erica has a different strain of hepatitis C than Parker.I received a phone call from a doctor at Rose Medical Center informing me that because my genotype did not match [Kristen Parkers], that I was not related to her hepatitis C, said Erica.As a result, Rose declined to pay for Ericas ongoing medical treatment.Dr. Gregory Everson, director of Hepatology at the University of Colorado, Denver, said genotype testing and genetic sequencing tests establish a fingerprint of a particular strain of hepatitis C. If, like Erica, a patient has a genotype that is less than 95 percent identical to Kristen Parkers, it is highly unlikely that that patient contracted the virus from her. But Everson said the wild card is whether other drug users had access to the needles Parker later brought back to the hospital.That opens up a whole other can of worms, said Everson.Parker admitted in a recorded debriefing that she brought some of the hospital needles home.Were there other people at your house that possibly could have had access to the needles? asked Assistant U.S. Attorney Jaime Pena in the debriefing.Yes, Parker admitted tearfully.Other drug users? Pena pressed.Yes, she responded.Erica said she watched the debriefing in disbelief.Why would she have to bring dirty needles back to work? Erica asked. Why didn't she get new needles and not infect any of us?Without Rose Medicals assistance, Erica is now relying on her medical insurance to cover her hepatitis C treatment, including a $1,000 injection that must be administered weekly for almost a year. Erica said without Roses help, she fully expects to run out of insurance coverage.Hollynd Hoskins, an attorney who represents patients who were directly infected by Parker and others who believe they were indirectly infected, said Rose should take responsibility for all of Parkers potential victims and pay for their ongoing medical treatment.I believe that the overwhelming evidence would support that these patients actually contracted hepatitis C at Rose Medical Center and that they should be treated fairly and should not be denied being a crime victim of Kristen Parker, she said.But Rose is only paying for medical treatment for those who have the same strain of hepatitis C as Parker. In a statement, Rose said in part:The Centers for Disease Control performed its investigation and determined through scientific analysis which patients contracted hepatitis C as a result of Kristen Parkers criminal actions. If the Centers for Disease Control determined that a patients contraction of hepatitis C was not scientifically linked to Kristen Parker, we are working with the patient on an individual basis to ensure his or her care is not interrupted ... We continue to evaluate the facts on an individual basis and will consider any new information that may develop.But Hoskins said one of her clients, a man who claims to have contracted hepatitis C after having surgery at Rose on a day that Parker was working, is facing the possibility of Rose cutting him off from medical treatment, after further testing revealed he, too, has a different strain of Hepatitis C than Parker.Just because they can't prove a direct link to Kristen Parker's one particular strain of hepatitis C doesn't mean that they did not contract it at Rose Medical Center, said Hoskins.Some of Hoskins clients are considering mounting a class action lawsuit against Rose Medical Center.