Keen-eyed Eastern Health staffer first to flag imposter nurse, says regulator

Lisa Marie Strickland, also known as Lisa Driscoll, is pictured here with her late son, Kane Driscoll. The woman with Bonavista roots pleaded guilty in Hamilton in January 2021 to criminal negligence causing death of her four-year-old. She later moved to Newfoundland and worked as an unlicensed nurse at long-term care homes in St. John's and Gander. (Facebook - image credit)

A keen-eyed staffer at Eastern Health was the first employer to flag an unlicensed nurse who worked at various health facilities in Newfoundland and Labrador for nearly two years, says the person in charge of the college that regulates LPNs in the province.

"They, in their due diligence, identified that Lisa Driscoll was not licensed with us. She was not on our database, and they called us to inquire," Wanda Wadman, CEO and registrar of the NL College of Licensed Practical Nurses, told CBC News.

That call last summer touched off an investigation by the college that eventually linked "Lisa Driscoll" to three private nursing homes in St. John's — Chancellor Park, Kenny's Pond and Lanes — where she worked for varying times as an LPN.

"So thankfully Eastern Health did that and identified that to us, and then we were able to identify her name to three other employers where we believed that she had been working," said Wadman.

Used licence number of nurse with similar name

The woman, whose legal name is Lisa Marie Strickland, spent time in an Ontario prison after pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing death in relation to the death in September 2017 of her four-year-old son Kane Driscoll. The boy died from a lethal dose of a narcotic that was prescribed to his mother. The woman worked for years as a practical nurse in Hamilton, but her licence was suspended following her interactions with the courts.

After leaving prison in early 2021, she returned to Newfoundland and used the licence number of a nurse with a similar name — data that is publicly available on the regulator's website — to successfully apply for work at the private nursing homes and was not exposed until she applied to Eastern Health.

Submitted by CLPNNL
Submitted by CLPNNL

Wadman blamed the employers who allowed the woman to slip through the cracks.

"Employers are ultimately responsible for who they hire," she said, adding that it's critical for employers to thoroughly screen the identities and credentials of prospective employees. The most basic step is to compare the information on a person's government-issued identification, such as a driver's licence, with the information on the college's website.

"If their name does not match the name on our website, no matter what types of excuses or things the individual may say, it still falls to the employer to call the regulator to verify and clarify that information," said Wadman.

No one harmed

Both Chancellor Park and Kenny's Pond confirmed in statements to CBC News that they parted company with the woman last summer after being alerted by the college of LPNs that she was not a licensed practitioner. Both say no one was harmed during the woman's time at the nursing homes.

Katie Breen/CBC
Katie Breen/CBC

No one at either of the personal-care homes have been available for an interview about how the woman evaded detection during the screening process, but Chancellor Park said in a statement, "We are confident that we have augmented our procedures to ensure this does not happen again."

Attempts to confirm the woman's links to Lanes Retirement Living have been unsuccessful.

Roots in Bonavista

Details have been slowly trickling out about the behaviour of the 43-year-old woman with roots in Bonavista since the story broke at the end of 2022.

She's known to the courts as Lisa Marie Strickland, but has also been identified as Lisa Driscoll and Michelle Driscoll. The most recent allegations against her — that she used the licence numbers of other certified nurses with names similar to hers to get jobs as both an RN and LPN — have not been proven in court, and both the RCMP and RNC have launched separate investigations.

The story broke on Dec. 21 when Central Health announced a woman named Lisa Driscoll had been impersonating a registered nurse — a health-care provider with a broader scope of practice than an LPN, and a job the woman was never trained for — at Lakeside Homes' long-term care facility in Gander.

Central Health revealed the woman was hired by a private agency called Staffing Solutions Inc. and was assigned to Lakeside, where she worked more than two dozen shifts between August and November of last year.

Her time in Gander came after she was exposed by Eastern Health and the College of LPNs, and after the college of LPNs sent a registered letter to the woman, asking her to stop impersonating a nurse. The woman signed for the letter at her then St. John's residence.

CBC News has confirmed that "Lisa Driscoll" is Lisa Marie Strickland, who was sentenced to 2½ years in prison in January 2021 by an Ontario judge but served minimal time after sentencing because of her lengthy pre-sentence custody.

During the investigation into her son's death, court documents show the woman once again became pregnant, and police in Hamilton, concerned about the unborn child's safety, asked area hospitals to alert them once she gave birth so the child could be taken into custody.

Based on media reports and court documents, the woman moved to Newfoundland in late 2018. It's not clear whether the baby was born in Ontario or Newfoundland, or what became of the child.

However, in early 2019, police arrested the woman in Bonavista and returned her to Hamilton, where she was initially charged with manslaughter. The charge was later reduced, with the woman pleading guilty to criminal negligence causing the death of Kane Driscoll.

"There was no reason that child should have that narcotic," said Det.-Sgt. Peter Thom of the Hamilton Police Service at a news conference in February 2019.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador