In the two years after he was ousted from Pittsburgh, agency recruiters found him assignments in a half-dozen hospitals across the country. In the spring of 2010, Kwiatkowski was hired by SpringBoard staffing agency to work at Arizona Heart Hospital, and within two weeks, a crisis erupted.
Kwiatkowski was discovered slumped in the men’s bathroom near a toilet, his breathing shallow and barely conscious, according to a hospital report. He had a puncture wound near his elbow, and floating in the toilet bowl was a syringe with a blue fentanyl label.
After staffers roused him, he blurted some profanity, then added, “I am going to jail.”
He was taken to the emergency room.
In an interview the next day with hospital staff, Kwiatkowski stated that he had grabbed a fentanyl syringe that he found and injected himself with the drug to reduce his abdominal pain.
He denied any history of using intravenous drugs. When asked why he did this, he replied, “I had a lapse of judgment. I was stupid.”
The Arizona hospital’s medical staff called Phoenix police to the scene, but they did not press for charges, and the police did not file any. A hospital report refers to Kwiatkowski’s father taking responsibility for bringing him back home.
Kwiatkowski’s parents declined to be interviewed for this story.
After the incident, SpringBoard called the national registry that certifies radiologic technologists and the Arizona state regulatory board for his profession — but the investigations led to no disciplinary action.
The registry dropped its investigation, saying that Kwiatkowski provided a “plausible explanation” for the events of that day and showed proof of passing a subsequent drug-screening test, said spokesman Christopher Cook. Cook declined to say what explanation Kwiatkowski gave.
The regulatory board for radiology technicians in Arizona — one of 39 states that license or certify radiology technicians to work in their state — began collecting information about the incident and apparently learned of his medical condition. The board also received a letter from Kwiatkowski about how he was taking responsibility for his life, including going into counseling.
Kwiatkowski later wrote the agency saying he did not want to fight the allegations, but wished to voluntarily surrender his license to practice in Arizona. Doing so prevented him from getting jobs in that state, but not anywhere else.
One of the agency’s entries about Kwiatkowski read: “Consent agreement rather than revocation. No other incidences, very good recommendations.”
From Arizona, he went on to find work at hospitals in Pennsylvania, Kansas, and finally Georgia, where he began dating a co-worker.
The woman, who asked to remain anonymous because she doesn’t want to be drawn into his criminal case, said she witnessed him suffer intense abdominal pain, but was unaware that he abused drugs to cope with it, though he often drank to excess.
“Whenever I was around, he never took anything. It was like – you just have to stick it out,” the former girlfriend said.
One day, he wrote her a heartfelt letter in which he revealed some of his struggles. “It’s been hard to let down some walls in my life to let you in, and it has been a blessing,” he wrote. “I never thought just talking or just laying with you when I’m feeling so sick would actually make me feel better physically and mentally.”
Arrival in New England
In April 2011, despite his problematic past, Kwiatkowski was hired by Triage Staffing agency for an assignment at Exeter Hospital in Exeter, N.H. A hospital spokesman said Exeter relied largely on the agency’s vetting of Kwiatkowski’s credentials, which included positive references and reports that he had passed drug tests.
At this job, he worked long hours, his beeper often going off at night and on weekends when emergency heart procedures came up. His dedication paid off. After six months as a contract employee through Triage, he was given glowing reviews and hired full time by Exeter in October 2011.
In many ways, his life seemed to be changing for the better. Despite his grueling hours, he used to spend hours at the gym, and he began to take an interest in designer clothes, said a close female friend whom he lived with. He told many friends that he had a fiancee in Michigan who died in a car accident. He enjoyed the attention he got from many women, while working hard to impress his bosses at Exeter.
“He was very good at his job,” said the close friend, who also worked at the hospital. “He took his job very seriously.”Continued...