June 8 -June 21, 2001
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Block, Ayers named to top posts
Health System prescribes interim employment policies
Time to pick Mulberry
Outstanding Employees show passion and dedication
Employees Honored for years of service to U.Va.
Believe in miracles
Alternative health therapies offered
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Hospital celebrates 100th anniversary
Heritage Repertory Theatre season opens June 21
Babyfest to arrive June 16

Health System prescribes interim employment policies

Matt Kelly

The Health System is taking steps to alter its hiring practices after an employee was accused of sexually assaulting a patient in the psychiatric ward. The accused employee had been convicted of a felony drug offense.

The hospital has temporarily stopped hiring people with felony criminal records and has discharged nine employees who had not fully disclosed their criminal history in job applications. All nine were either temporary workers or still in their six-month probationary period.

"We are continuing to work hard to improve what we do, not only in the psychiatric unit but throughout the Medical Center," William E. "Nick" Carter Jr., chief operating officer of the Health System, said in an e-mail to the employees on May 31. "Please know that your dedicated work every day is very much appreciated. It is the commitment of our employees that will help us weather the storm."

Meeting with Health System employees on May 25, Carter and other members of his staff sought to reassure them that the administration is concerned about patient and staff safety. About 50 employees attended a morning meeting, while a similar meeting that afternoon drew between 100 and 130 employees.

Pamela F. Cipriano, chief clinical officer, said that interim employment policies had been implemented while Health System managers review the hiring practices and the sexual assault allegations. She said employees accused of serious misconduct will be placed immediately on administrative leave or be reassigned while police or University investigations are conducted.

In a later interview, Carter said that all the dismissed employees had felony convictions, adding that a review of recently hired employees showed that there were no felons hired in the past six months other than the ones who falsified their applications and were fired.

"Under a long-standing policy, a job applicant who fails to disclose all criminal convictions on his or her application may be terminated when a check of criminal records reveals the discrepancy," Carter said. "Our intent in enforcing both policies is to provide as safe and secure a healthcare environment as possible for our patients. These are difficult decisions, which we have tried to approach in a thoughtful and even-handed manner."

On June 6, Marguerite Beck, Medical Center spokeswoman, said that each of the nine dismissals was being reviewed.

Carter said the review of the case and the hiring practices was continuing. He said the interim hiring policy could become permanent, but that other options are under study.

At the meeting, Carter said there was deep concern expressed for all the people involved and their families.


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