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Nurse anesthetist sues hospital, others

Board discusses suit in closed session

Published: Friday, March 29, 2013 1:15 a.m. CDT

(Continued from Page 1)

MORRISON – A nurse anesthetist has sued Morrison Community Hospital, among others, saying he was unfairly kept from doing business in the Morrison and Clinton areas.

The hospital’s board of trustees was informed of the lawsuit in a closed session Wednesday, board attorney Tom Potter said, declining to comment on the litigation.

The other major defendant in the lawsuit is Mercy Medical Center in Clinton, which managed MCH for more than two decades.

After the closed session, where the board apparently discussed a number of topics, members unanimously voted to end the hospital’s relationship with Mercy. The lawsuit was filed March 11, after officials started considering cutting ties with the Clinton hospital.

According to the lawsuit:

In 2005, nurse anesthetist Anthony B. Schwendinger was hired by Pain Consultants, an Iowa firm that provided anesthesia services to the Clinton and Morrison hospitals.

He was among a “limited group” of anesthesia providers to the hospitals, a group that included three who are named as defendants.

Schwendinger never was a party to a medical malpractice claim, never was subject to the hospitals’ review processes or disciplinary proceedings, and never was notified of any complaints surrounding his patient care.

The other providers made false statements regarding Schwendinger’s history of alcoholism, including saying he had “fallen off the wagon” and was impaired while providing patient care, the suit says.

The providers also harassed him directly and through communications with third parties.

Schwendinger reported the harassing and bullying behavior to Mercy at least three times, but the hospital did nothing.

On Feb. 17, 2012, Mercy CEO Sean Williams expressed his concerns about Schwendinger to the owner of Pain Consultants. Then Mercy blocked Schwendinger’s access.

Williams formed an ad hoc committee to discuss Schwendinger, but instead of focusing on his patient care, members talked about his purported alcoholism. At the meeting, Williams said Schwendinger no longer could work there.

Shortly after, Kent Jorgensen, then the CEO of Morrison’s hospital and an employee of Mercy, informed Pain Consultants that Schwendinger no longer was welcome.

The lawsuit states that the hospitals violated their governing documents by not giving Schwendinger due process.

Schwendinger has since struggled to find employment because Mercy refuses to fully respond to reference requests from potential employers.

The lawsuit also contends the hospital violated the Sherman Antitrust Act, pursued a conspiracy to harm Schwendinger, defamed him, blacklisted him and interfered with contracts.

Mercy spokeswoman Julie Dunn and Schwendinger’s attorney, Peter Gaido, who works in downtown Chicago, didn’t return calls for comment.

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