System prescribes interim employment policies
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
"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
"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.