Caregiver charged in nursing home drug-tampering case

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LEAVENWORTH — A former Leavenworth residential-care employee faces charges of assault and drug possession after allegedly licking fentanyl patches prescribed to a memory-care patient.

Denise Janine Cheever, 57, of Cashmere worked as a night-shift nursing assistant at Mountain Meadows Senior Living until her firing last November. Chelan County prosecutors charged her by summons Jan. 10.

Sheriff’s detectives say Cheever’s fellow workers reported she had tampered with medication intended for patients, and video surveillance allegedly showed Cheever licking a fentanyl patch she’d peeled from the skin of an unresponsive patient. Fentanyl is a powerful and highly addictive painkiller used in palliative care.

Cheever faces arraignment Feb. 12. After a preliminary court appearance Wednesday, Judge Travis Brandt allowed her to go free on her own recognizance.