PCC nursing dean resigns after probe of drug claims

2014-01-30T00:00:00Z PCC nursing dean resigns after probe of drug claimsBy Carol Ann Alaimo Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

The head of Pima Community College’s largest program is resigning after an investigation of claims she tried to solicit prescription painkillers from subordinates.

Martha “Marty” Mayhew, a registered nurse, has been academic dean of nursing and health-related education since 2010. Her last day on campus was Tuesday.

A second PCC employee has been placed on administrative leave with pay in a related matter and her future is being determined.

PCC hired an outside investigator to look into drug claims against Mayhew after an employee union complained last fall. The results of that probe have been turned over to the Arizona State Board of Nursing, which investigates alleged misconduct by RNs, Chancellor Lee Lambert  said Wednesday.

Mayhew, 60, who started work at PCC in 1995, denied the drug claims in an interview last year, telling the Arizona Daily Star there was “absolutely no truth” to them.

Lambert said he can’t release specifics of the college’s findings because it might jeopardize the Nursing Board’s investigation.

“Given what we’ve uncovered and what the impact may be, we have a duty to report it,” he said of the decision to involve the state agency.

Also Tuesday, college employee Nancy Peasley, a licensed practical nurse who said Mayhew asked her for drugs, was placed on paid leave for failing to report it promptly. That matter still is being addressed, the chancellor said.

“When you are a licensed professional and something comes to your attention you have a duty to report it in a timely way and there are issues related to that,” Lambert said of the action against Peasley.

Local 449 of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, which represents about 140 PCC workers, filed a statement of “no confidence” in Mayhew’s leadership with the college in September.

The union said she “consistently creates a hostile working environment” and had violated professional standards “on several occasions by asking specific employees for their leftover prescription painkillers.”

College officials moved quickly Wednesday to reassure students, employees and local hospitals affiliated with PCC programs that problems are being corrected and that a new interim leader already is in place.

Brian Stewart, a registered nurse and dean at the college’s Desert Vista campus, has taken over Mayhew’s duties at West Campus. Stewart holds bachelor’s and master’s degrees in nursing, Lambert said.

“We have a trained and highly competent individual who will ensure that this transition occurs with minimal disruption,” he said.

Lambert said he hopes his handling of the case shows the public he’s serious about changing the culture of the troubled college, which is on probation with its accreditor for failings unrelated to its health programs.

“I said I was going to hold people accountable and that’s what’s playing out now,” said Lambert, who started at PCC seven months ago.

Mayhew’s departure is the latest in a string of firings, resignations and sudden retirements in PCC’s administrative ranks. Eight administrators, including a number of senior executives, have left since June.

Contact reporter Carol Ann Alaimo at calaimo@azstarnet.com or at 573-4138.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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