Mother of nurse arrested in Hep C case talks
The mother of a nurse arrested Friday on suspicion of infecting two patients at Puyallup's Good Samaritan Hospital with hepatitis C says her daughter is innocent and questioned the basis for detaining her.
"Taking her and putting her in jail without having evidence or a cause, it's deplorable," said Eunice Weberg, mother of Cora Weberg, the 31-year-old nurse linked to the discovery of the infected patients.
Puyallup police arrested Cora Weberg Friday at the U.S.-Canada border as she headed for a long-planned trip to Guam with her boyfriend. A preliminary statement of probable cause filed by police stated that Cora Weberg "intentionally contaminated medicine or another substance with her own blood," which allegedly contained the virus, and administered the medicine to patients.
As of Friday afternoon, Weberg had not been arraigned or formally charged with a crime.
The statement from police seemingly conflicts with statements made earlier this week by Good Samaritan Hospital leaders, who said that Cora Weberg was "surprised" when told in March that she had contracted the hepatitis C virus.
Eunice, who is also a registered nurse but does not work at Good Samaritan, said the reports don't add up. She said Cora agreed to multiple blood tests in March as investigators searched for the source of what infected the two patients at the hospital and contended such behavior wouldn't fit the profile of someone trying to keep a secret.
"She doesn’t think she has it. That's the last thing that was on her mind, that she would have something like this," Eunice said Friday. "She would talk to me. I would talk to her if I had something contagious. She would do the same to me. She’s not an IV drug user. She doesn’t have sex for money. She’s in a monogamous relationship. She’s smart, she’s sympathetic. She’s got a heart of gold. She wouldn’t hurt a bug. I raised her. She’s a lot like me. You tell the truth. You tell the truth if it hurts."
Whether Cora Weberg is the source of the virus that infected the Good Samaritan patients is an open question. When Good Samaritan leaders announced a public safety alert Monday, they said they were certain that the two infected patients contracted the virus from the same source. They could not say whether Weberg was the source, though she had treated the patients in the hospital's emergency department.
Friday, Nigel Turner, Division Director of Communicable Disease Control at the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department, was asked whether Weberg spread the virus or contracted it.
"That's a good question," Turner said. "I think that's something that we would be asking during the investigation."
Puyallup police spokesman Ryan Portmann said police did not interview Weberg at the time of her arrest, but added that police had sufficient cause to detain her.
"We feel confident we have probable cause," he said.
Eunice Weberg said she did not know anything about a separate allegation that her daughter stole drugs from the hospital for personal use.
"I don’t know about that," she said. "But that doesn’t have anything to do with the allegations (of infecting patients.) I feel like it's scapegoating: blame her for a hospital problem. To take her and accuse her and lock her up, that just seems backwards."