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Buck v. Director, Dep't of Workforce Services

Court of Appeals of Arkansas, Division I

December 3, 2014

TERESA BUCK, APPELLANT
v.
DIRECTOR, DEPARTMENT OF WORKFORCE SERVICES, AND LAKE HAMILTON HEALTH AND REHABILITATION, APPELLEES

APPEAL FROM THE ARKANSAS BOARD OF REVIEW. NO. 2013-BR-03315.

Brian G. Brooks, Attorney at Law, PLLC, by: Brian G. Brooks; and The Cruz Law Firm, by: Kathy A. Cruz, for appellant.

Phyllis A. Edwards, for appellees.

DAVID M. GLOVER, Judge. PITTMAN and WHITEAKER, JJ., agree.

OPINION

Page 706

DAVID M. GLOVER, Judge

Appellant Teresa Buck appeals the Board of Review's decision denying her unemployment benefits on the basis that she voluntarily left her last work without good cause connected to the work. On appeal, Buck argues that she voluntarily left her employment for good cause. We affirm the Board's denial of benefits.

Buck was employed by Lake Hamilton Health and Rehabilitation (LHHR), a longterm-care and rehabilitation facility, from May 14, 2013, to June 13, 2013, as a registered nurse. Buck's testimony was that on June 13, 2013, she arrived for her shift at 2:30 p.m., prepared to receive her report from the day nurse from 2:30 until 3 p.m.; instead, she was asked to assist with the discharge of a patient, and could not perform the medicine-cart count with the day nurse until 3:15 p.m., after which she began distributing medication, which was to be completed between 3 and 5 p.m. However, the assistant director of nursing told her to stop and take a report on a new admission LHHR was receiving later that evening; after Buck performed this task she began distributing medication again only to be called away a second time due to an agitated patient requiring her attention. Buck requested and received assistance from the assistant director of nursing with the agitated patient; while she was calling the patient's physician for new medication around 4:15 p.m., the assistant director of nursing told her that one of Buck's patient's had requested a narcotic over an hour before and was in pain. Buck retrieved the agitated patient's new medication from a locked room and administered the new medication; she then gave the narcotic medication requested by the other patient and, as she came out of that patient's room at approximately 5 p.m., the administrator directed her to go to the dining hall for dinner. Buck said that she asked the administrator whether she wanted Buck to distribute medication or give meals and was told to report to the dining hall.

Buck testified that she did not tell the director of nursing that the assistant director

Page 707

of nursing had pulled her away from distributing medication to assess the agitated patient, but that the director of nursing knew there was an intervening event and did not give her any advice as to how to handle it and distribute medication at the same time. Buck said that she had been ordered to distribute medications; the administrator's order to report to the dining hall countermanded that order; and, in her opinion, the administrator's order placed her nursing license in jeopardy because she had not completed distributing medications prior to dinner. She stated that she believed it was an unsafe situation, so she quit.

On cross-examination, Buck agreed that the assistant director of nursing assisted her when she asked for help, but she asserted that she was assigned additional tasks that took her away from distributing medication and prevented her from finishing by 5 p.m. Buck testified that she was to follow orders from the director of nursing, the assistant director of nursing, and the administrator, and, in her experience as a nurse for over thirty years, if there was a conflict or discrepancy that she was concerned about, she was to clarify it with the doctor or supervisor. Buck admitted that she did not tell any of the people giving her orders that she felt there were too many people giving her orders, but that she was trying to follow everyone's orders, and they were disrupting her.

Ruthanne Murphy, a lawyer and a registered nurse who testified on Buck's behalf, said that Buck believed her nursing license was in jeopardy due to the conflicting orders she had been given. Murphy stated that she had concerns about LHHR procedures because a nurse is placed " in the middle" when she is given diametrically opposite orders from supervisors, and it certainly created a problem when an administrator countermanded orders of the director of nursing. Murphy acknowledged that, as a registered nurse, intervening events occur that interrupt routine things such as distributing medications.

LHHR witnesses Amanda Levato, the administrator, and Christi Norman, the director of nursing, both testified that Buck never alerted them that she needed assistance performing her duties on the day she quit or that she thought her nursing license was in jeopardy due to conflicting orders. Levato said that Buck did not give a reason for leaving, she just told Levato that she was done. Norman said that while it was not normal for the director of nursing or the assistant director of nursing to assist the staff, Buck was new and they wanted to ensure she got all the help she needed so that she would not be overloaded; however, on the day in question, Buck ...


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