By Nammi Bhagvandoss

Freeman Health System officials have beefed up security even more after more drug thefts from operating rooms at Freeman Hospital East at 932 E. 34th St.

"Yes, we had a break-in (Thursday morning), and it was reported to the Joplin Police Department," said Emily Stanley, media relations coordinator. "We're working with them on the continued investigation."

Police received the second report at 3:03 a.m. Thursday. Freeman officials reported the previous thefts at 8:06 a.m. Monday.

Two Pyxis drug distribution machines were damaged and some drugs were missing, said police Sgt. Curt Farmer of the latest thefts.

The machines were in different operating rooms, Farmer said. Various milligrams of Demerol and fentanyl were taken.

The exterior doors were secure, and there was no sign of forced entry, Farmer said.

"We are evaluating all of our procedures and ramping up our security so this is not a problem in the future," Stanley said.

Hospital security officials have added additional video surveillance.

A security guard was in place, but he had been asked to help with another matter when the break-in took place, Stanley said.

When asked whether employee theft is suspected, Stanley said police are looking at all possible suspects.

The hospital is cooperating fully with the Police Department "so we can come to a swift conclusion," Stanley said.

Thirty-one vials of fentanyl, a derivative of morphine, were reported stolen from surgery-room cabinets over the weekend. Authorities said the locked cabinets had been pried open.

Stolen drugs

Fentanyl and Demerol belong to a group of medicines called narcotic analgesics, which are used to relieve pain.


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