Whitney woman arrested in drug diversion investigation

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

April 13, 2022

A Whitney woman was arrested on felony charges last week after an investigation into a drug case involving a Clifton nursing home.

Multiple agencies, including Whitney and Clifton police departments, began investigating after Clifton Lutheran Sunset Ministries (CLSM) alerted authorities that drugs had possibly been stolen from a resident of the facility.

The investigation led to the arrest of 43-year-old nurse Ashley Kay Bidwell of Whitney, who was charged with diversion of a controlled substance by registrants, which is a state jail felony, and injury to a child/elderly/disabled individual with intentional serious bodily injury, which is a first-degree felony.

“This person used their position with CLSM to take medication away from an elderly patient when he was in dire need of it, for their own addiction,” Clifton Police Chief Chris Blanton said in a press release. “I want to stress that the CLSM took very swift action and was 100% cooperative with our investigation, which is why we were able to make such a quick arrest.”

According to reports, the incident involved an elderly hospice patient whose prescribed morphine was replaced with cranberry juice.

The chief said that Bidwell’s employment was terminated by CLSM, and he stressed that this appears to be an isolated incident, and no other residents were harmed.

Chief Blanton continued, “As far as we can tell, they did their part in doing a background check on this individual per state law. It just so happens a bad apple made it through. It is very unfortunate that this person put the stellar reputation of the CLSM and the safety of this patient in jeopardy.”

Bidwell was booked into the Bosque County Jail with bonds totaling $150,000.

CLSM President and CEO Rodney Rueter released a statement following the arrest thanking law enforcement for their assistance and said the incident was isolated and the family of the resident was immediately notified.

“All employees and residents’ families were notified once the arrest was made,” Rueter said. “Preliminary investigation by the Texas Department of Health and Human Services has cleared Sunset Home of any lack of oversight in our drug management or hiring practices.”

He added, “The safety, security and wellbeing of our residents and staff is our top priority, and we are cooperating fully with law enforcement and state agencies as they investigate this matter.”

Whitney Police Chief Christopher Bentley said that this is an ongoing, complex investigation with the cooperation of the Texas State Nursing Board and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

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