Arizona Hospital Employee Arrested After Allegedly Stealing $1,700 Worth of Personal Protective Equipment

An Arizona man was arrested on Friday for allegedly stealing $1,700 worth of personal protective equipment and cleaning supplies from the hospital he worked at during the coronavirus outbreak. The Yavapai Regional Medical Center West Campus in Prescott fired Keith Brown, 49, who was arrested and booked at the Yavapai County Jail for felony theft and fraud. The arrest came while health care workers are facing shortages of equipment across the country during the pandemic.

Other hospital employees called Prescott police to the hospital after noticing some items were missing. Investigators named Brown, who worked in the housekeeping department, as the suspect, reports AZFamily.com. Police questioned Brown, who said he stole several items in the past three weeks. He admitted to taking gloves, hand sanitizer, surgical scrubs, paper towels, toilet paper, wash cloths, masks, bleach cleaner and an automatic hand sanitizer machine.

Investigators have found the stolen items and are working with the hospital to return the items. The items, worth a combined $1,700, were discovered in Brown's vehicle and home. Unfortunately, since they left the hospital, staff will have to determine if any of the stolen items can still be used.

This was not the only case of stolen hospital items. On Saturday, the Palm Beach County, Florida Sheriff's Office said Rhoderick Manhattan, 46, was seen taking medical equipment from Palms West Hospital in Loxahatchee and putting them into a car with Pennsylvania plates. Manhattan, who worked as a physician's assistant at the hospital, was booked into Palm Beach County Jail Friday afternoon, reports the Sun-Sentinel. The sheriff's office said ore than $500 worth of medical equipment was found in Manhattan's car, including boot covers, protective overall suits, head cover hoods, a box of gloves and a pair of scrubs.

Manhattan was charged with grand theft of medial equipment during a state of emergency. He was held on $15,000 bond and has since been bonded out. "Theft of medical equipment over $300 is a 2nd degree felony and a 'state of emergency' enhancement makes it a 1st degree felony," sheriff's office spokeswoman Teri Barbera wrote in a news release."

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Last week, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention announced new guidelines for slowing the spread of the coronavirus, including wearing cloth masks in public. The government previously advised only those showing symptoms to wear masks, but since some patients with the coronavirus have not shown symptoms, they are now advising everyone to wear one. Surgeon General Jerome Adams has told the public not to buy N95 medical grade masks, as supplies are still low among health care workers. Adams also filmed a PSA showing Americans how to create their own masks at home.