Mount Carmel to get new lead­ers

The Columbus Dispatch - - Front Page - By Joanne Vi­viano, Mike Wag­ner, Lu­cas Sullivan and Henry Palat­tella The Colum­bus Dis­patch

The head of Mount Carmel Health Sys­tem is re­tir­ing, and 23 peo­ple have been fired as the sys­tem con­cluded its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into a doc­tor ac­cused of or­der­ing po­ten­tially fa­tal doses of painkiller­s for dozens of pa­tients.

In addition to the retirement of Pres­i­dent and CEO Ed Lamb, who will leave July 25, Mount Carmel an­nounced that Dr. Richard Streck, ex­ec­u­tive vice Lamb pres­i­dent and chief clin­i­cal of­fi­cer, will re­tire at the end of Septem­ber.

The 23 em­ploy­ees who have lost their jobs in­clude five mem­bers of physi­cian, nurs­ing and phar­macy man­age­ment Streck teams, Lamb said in a state­ment.

Lamb said his res­ig­na­tion comes as he is “per­son­ally com­pelled to do all that I can to move Mount Carmel be­yond this tragedy.”

“These last months have been dif­fi­cult for our health­care sys­tem, and, in

times such as these, new lead­er­ship has the abil­ity to fa­cil­i­tate heal­ing and help re­store the trust of the com­mu­nity,” he said. “... This was a dif­fi­cult de­ci­sion, but one that is in the best in­ter­est of our or­ga­ni­za­tion, our col­leagues and the peo­ple we serve.”

Lamb said Michi­gan-based Trin­ity Health, the Catholic Health sys­tem of which Mount Carmel is a part, will soon ap­point an in­terim CEO and that he will work to en­sure a smooth tran­si­tion.

The an­nounce­ment comes about six months after Mount Carmel first re­vealed find­ings of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Dr. Wil­liam Husel, 43, of Liberty Town­ship near Dublin.

Mount Carmel has said the in­ves­ti­ga­tion showed that Husel or­dered high doses of painkiller­s for 35 se­ri­ously ill in­ten­sive-care pa­tients over about four years at the former Mount Carmel West hos­pi­tal in Franklin­ton and, in one case, at Mount Carmel St. Ann’s hos­pi­tal in Wester­ville.

Husel was fired in De­cem­ber, and last month he was charged in Franklin County Com­mon Pleas Court with 25 counts of mur­der in­volv­ing pa­tients who the doc­tor is ac­cused of

has­ten­ing or caus­ing their death. He has pleaded not guilty. His lawyer has said the physi­cian was pro­vid­ing com­fort care to end-of-life pa­tients and did not in­tend to kill any­one.

Along with the 23 em­ploy­ees los­ing their jobs, Lamb said one employee re­mains on ad­min­is­tra­tive leave. Eleven oth­ers cur­rently on leave will be al­lowed to re­turn after com­plet­ing train­ing and ed­u­ca­tion.

The health sys­tem has com­pleted its in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Husel’s pa­tients, Lamb said, and made the employee de­ci­sions based on the roles they played in med­i­ca­tion ad­min­is­tra­tion or over­sight.

Ohio At­tor­ney Gen­eral Dave Yost said the ac­tions taken by Mount Carmel are wel­come, as they mark the early stages of ac­count­abil­ity.

“The Mount Carmel sys­tem is an im­por­tant part of the cen­tral Ohio com­mu­nity, and these ac­tions will help sta­bi­lize it so the med­i­cal teams — and the pa­tients who rely on them — can look to the fu­ture,” Yost said.

Colum­bus At­tor­ney David Shroyer, who is rep­re­sent­ing fam­ily mem­bers of Husel’s pa­tients in four wrong­fuldeath suits, said the hos­pi­tal’s de­ci­sion to fire staff mem­bers is an ad­mis­sion that they failed those who died un­der the doc­tor’s care.

“It says to me they are rec­og­niz­ing there was a

sys­tem­atic fail­ure in pre­ven­tion and pro­tect­ing pa­tients against a rogue physi­cian,” Shroyer said. “The ques­tion I have is ‘What took so long?’ They have known for over eight months.”

Shroyer also said the per­son­nel moves still don’t an­swer the most im­por­tant ques­tions fam­i­lies have for the hos­pi­tal.

“One of the things the fam­i­lies want to know is how did this happen and what really went wrong and how we can en­sure this doesn’t happen in the fu­ture,” Shroyer said. “And fir­ing a few peo­ple doesn’t an­swer those ques­tions.”

Anne Valen­tine, a part­ner at the Leese­berg and Valen­tine firm rep­re­sent­ing the fam­i­lies of sev­eral Husel pa­tients, said Mount Carmel is tak­ing ac­tion but not be­ing transparen­t.

“No one is sur­prised that this hap­pened,” she said. “And when peo­ple fail to do their jobs, it’s in­dica­tive of the flaws in your sys­tem, but they have not been forth­com­ing with any in­for­ma­tion about those fail­ures be­yond what they have said at the be­gin­ning.”

Valen­tine said Mount Carmel has not an­swered ques­tions asked by her firm and has re­fused to re­spond to mo­tions for ev­i­dence in civil cases.

Gerald Leese­berg, the other part­ner at Leese­berg and Valen­tine, said the fir­ings

show that Husel alone is not cul­pa­ble in the over­doses.

“This just con­firms our sus­pi­cion that this is far larger and deeper than Dr. Husel,” Leese­berg said. “This was an in­sti­tu­tional fail­ure.”

He be­lieves the fir­ings will open up a flow of in­for­ma­tion about the case.

“In spite of Mount Carmel’s pub­lic de­noue­ments, they have re­sisted our abil­ity as at­tor­neys to con­duct our own for­mal in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” he said Thurs­day at a news con­fer­ence. “That ef­fort was just re­jected by the courts, and Mount Carmel had been or­dered to make these peo­ple avail­able to us so we can find out answers as to why this hap­pened.”

Mount Carmel has pre­vi­ously said that 48 phar­ma­cists and nurses had been re­ported to li­cens­ing boards, in­clud­ing 30 who were still with the health sys­tem.

The state Board of Nurs­ing has is­sued no­tices to 25 nurses, say­ing they could lose their li­censes for their roles in the care of Husel pa­tients. A spokes­woman said nine have sched­uled hear­ings.

The State of Ohio Board of Phar­macy has taken no pub­lic ac­tion.

The State Med­i­cal Board of Ohio has sus­pended Husel’s li­cense, and he faces an Oc­to­ber hear­ing.

Lamb said the health sys­tem has im­ple­mented many changes and will con­tinue to work to strengthen its cul­ture of safety and re­in­force that em­ploy­ees “have a right to speak up about safety concerns and are ex­pected to do so.”

In a mes­sage to lead­ers, Trin­ity Health Pres­i­dent and CEO Mike Slubowski said he ap­pre­ci­ates Lamb’s com­mit­ment to the sys­tem’s mis­sion and the peo­ple it serves.

“He ad­vanced Mount Carmel’s am­bu­la­tory and med­i­cal group strat­egy. He led im­prove­ments in col­league en­gage­ment and the ex­pan­sion of our hos­pi­tal net­work, and he strength­ened our pop­u­la­tion-health and com­mu­nity-health and well-be­ing pro­grams through­out the re­gion,” Slubowski said.

The Husel in­ves­ti­ga­tion isn’t the only is­sue faced by Lamb in re­cent months.

On May 31, the Ohio Depart­ment of Health or­dered Mount Carmel to take im­me­di­ate ac­tion to con­tain a Le­gion­naires’ dis­ease out­break at its Grove City hos­pi­tal, which had opened about a month ear­lier.

At least 16 peo­ple, in­clud­ing one woman who died, were di­ag­nosed with the dis­ease.

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