The smiling faces in a newspaper engagement announcement a few weeks ago enraged Anneliese Miller.
The woman in the photo was a home health nurse who had stolen $1,200 from Anneliese’s grandmother-in-law, Estella Barnes, a year ago. According to the engagement announcement, Sabryna Klug of Rathdrum, Idaho, still is a nurse’s aide.
The state’s Board of Nursing confirmed the news. It had renewed Sabryna’s certificate in January, four months after she had confessed to grand theft. The reason for the renewal: Sabryna, 24, hadn’t abused or neglected Estella.
The news flabbergasted the secretary answering the inquiry.
“Stealing $1,200 from your patient isn’t abuse?” she sputtered over the telephone. She was as outraged as Anneliese.
“It makes me mad. Why can’t there be something we can do?” Anneliese moaned.
Myron Higbee, ombudsman for the elderly in North Idaho, takes 45 reports a month from scammed senior citizens. People steal their savings, sell them vacuums for three times the market price, claim to be their missing heirs.
“There are a whole lot of people out there trying to get people’s money, and the elderly are easy targets,” Myron said. “It disgusts me.”
Estella was 90 in April 1994 when Panhandle Home Health sent Sabryna to help with chores. Sabryna passed the agency’s background check; she had had minor run-ins with the law over bad checks, but no felonies.
But the parade of nurse’s aides through Estella’s house prompted careful Anneliese to check Estella’s bank account. She found it had been drained by two checks Sabryna had cashed. Sabryna claimed the money was a gift. Anneliese called the police.
Sabryna served 10 days in jail for her crime and 50 days in home detention. She was ordered to repay the money she stole, but Estella has yet to see a cent.
“She (Estella) needed a new furnace. We could’ve really used that money,” Anneliese said. “It was her nest egg.”
Sabryna can’t work as a nurse’s aide for the state anymore. But she can work for anyone whose medical bills aren’t paid by the state, according to the nursing board.
Sabryna doesn’t say much about her crime, except that she has dealt with it and wants to get on with life. She believes her censure in Idaho is comprehensive and says she plans to learn a new occupation to support herself and her three children.
That’s more than Estella can do.
Not just for kids
Closet artists, take note. This summer, Coeur d’Alene’s Citizens Council for the Arts will let you sing with jazz vocalist Ruthie Ristich, write with Idaho writer in residence Clay Morgan, sculpt or paint with Mead artist Harold Balazs or tap with Spokane dancer Sharon Collins.
Classes also include Lakota Sioux dancing and drumming.
They will start at the end of July and range from $10 to $100. Call 667-9346 for details.
It’s hard to beat 242 years of experience. What’s the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare’s secret? Coeur d’Alene’s Will Ross has stuck with the job 30 years. Sandpoint’s Winnie Becker and Coeur d’Alene’s Wesley Isbell each have 29 years in.
Dennis Coe and Roy Moe have labored together in the department’s Sandpoint office for 27 years. And Sally Barlow, Carol May, Millie Moe and Jackie Beery have plugged away for 25 years each. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Does anyone serve a more exotic dish than the Rocky Mountain oysters at Enaville’s Snake Pit or Wally’s Wolf Lodge Inn?
Cough up details of your craziest meals to Cynthia Taggart, “Close to Home,” 608 Northwest Blvd., Suite 200, Coeur d’Alene 83814; or send a fax to 765-7149 or call 765-7128 and make me drool.