Montana hospital under fire for rehiring nurse with child porn record

Culbertson, Mont.-based Roosevelt Medical Center's decision to rehire a nurse convicted of receiving child pornography has drawn significant criticism from the local community, according to the Billings Gazette.

Hospital officials decided to rehire Denise Carlson, RN, and posted the notice to the hospital's Facebook page. Ms. Carlson pleaded guilty to a single charge of receiving child pornography on her computer in June 2009. She also admitted to downloading sexually explicit images and videos of minors for nine years before federal investigators traced her activities on a file-sharing program in 2008, according to the Billings Gazette. She was released from federal prison in 2016 after serving more than six years.

RMC held a meeting Oct. 3 to discuss the hiring decision with concerned members of the community. Few of the individuals who responded to RMC's social media post appeared to support the hospital's decision, the report states. Several people vowed to take their children elsewhere for medical care, citing Ms. Carlson's status as a registered sex offender.

RMC CEO Audrey Stromberg defended officials' decision to rehire Ms. Carlson to the Billings Gazette Oct. 4, stating the nurse had worked at the hospital for seven years as a "casual status employee" and regularly picked up other nurses' shifts before her conviction.

"[Ms. Carlson] provided good nursing care. None of the charges were directed at activity while she was working here," Ms. Stromberg told the publication.

She also pointed to the fact that rural hospitals typically have difficulty recruiting and retaining its medical staff.

"[Recruitment issues are] part of the issue. It's a definite consideration. But it is not the entire decision," Ms. Stromberg said.

To access the full report, click here.

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