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Mount Carmel Announces New Leadership, Places More Employees On Leave

A banner at the Mount Carmel West campus in Columbus on Jan. 30, 2019.
Gabe Rosenberg

Mount Carmel Health System announced that it reported 48 hospital employees to relevant nursing and pharmacy boards, and appointed new interim leadership for Mount Carmel West.

A statement Wednesday from CEO Ed Lamb says that all colleagues associated with medication administration were removed from patient care. The hospital placed 30 employees on administrative leave, while another 18 no longer work for Mount Carmel. However, the hospital says many of those employees left the hospital years ago.

“Placing colleagues on administrative leave does not reflect final judgement on their actions,” Lamb writes. “It is the appropriate step to take while we continue our internal investigation.”

The actions come after the firing ICU doctor and anesthesiologist William Husel, who the hospital says gave “excessive and potentially fatal” doses of the pain medication fentanyl to dozens of patients. All patients died after receiving the painkiller doses.

Husel was removed from patient care in November and fired in December. Since his firing was made public in January, at least 24 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Husel and Mount Carmel by the families of Husel's patients.

Lamb's statement also provides the first confirmation that all clinical leaders at Mount Carmel West, as well as the ICU where Husel worked, were placed on administrative leave. Lamb also said new interim leadership is now in place.

Timeline: The Mount Carmel Saga So Far

WOSU previously reported that Mount Carmel West’s chief pharmacy officer Janet Whittey left the hospital in February. Writing to the Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Whittey said she is no longer the "responsible pharmacist" for the hospital. However, it's uncertain under what conditions Whittey left.

WOSU spoke with several Mount Carmel employees who criticized the fact that the hospital seemed to place blame on pharmacists and nurses instead of on leadership and hospital policies.

“Some of our colleagues did not meet our standard of care,” Mount Carmel CEO Ed Lamb said in https://youtu.be/7vQWqDlugQk?t=229">a video for employees in January. “The actions that created this tragedy were instigated by this physician and carried out by a small number of good people who made poor decisions. They ignored the safeguards we had in place.”

Wednesday's statement also reiterates protocols regarding pain medication. An investigation by the Ohio Department of Health, on behalf of the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid, found Mount Carmel had insufficient policies and failed safeguards surrounding painkiller dosing and medication dispensing. As of late February, Mount Carmel West and St. Ann's hospitals remain non-compliant with conditions for Medicare participation, and is in jeopardy of losing federal funding.

The Franklin County Prosecutor’s Office is currently investigating. The office released a statement last month stating it's investigating 29 deaths connected to Husel. Mount Carmel contacted the Franklin County Prosecutor in early December 2018 about Husel's actions.

According to the statement, Husel voluntarily gave his passport to authorities while the investigation continues.

The Ohio Medical Board suspended Husel’s medical license and served him a citation saying he could face further discipline. Husel will appear before the board in July to appeal the suspension and possible permanent revocation of his license.

If you have information to share about the Mount Carmel investigation, please contact WOSU at paige.pfleger@wosu.org.