St. Peter’s Health, a hospital in Helena, Montana, has accused at least three high-ranking state officials of threatening and harassing doctors who had previously refused to treat a COVID-19 patient with ivermectin.
According to reports, a COVID-positive woman in her 80s was hospitalized at St. Peter’s and requested to be treated with the drug; hospital physicians refused the treatment — and claim to have faced pressure from outside forces ever since.
“These officials have no medical training or experience, yet they were insisting our providers give treatment for COVID-19 that are not authorized, clinically approved, or within the guidelines established by the FDA and the CDC,” St. Peter’s spokesperson Katie Gallagher wrote in an emailed statement to MedPage Today. “In addition, they threatened to use their position of power to force our doctors and nurses to provide this care.”
The officials in question have not yet been named directly by the hospital, but, according to Helena’s Independent Record, a spokesperson from state Attorney General Austin Knudsen’s (R) office confirmed that Knudsen was on a conference call with hospital executives, during which a Montana Highway Patrol trooper was reportedly dispatched to St. Peter’s. The attorney general’s office, however, has refuted the hospital’s characterization of its actions and claims their involvement came only after the patient’s family sought out the attorney general’s help.
“The Department of Justice initiated an investigation into very troubling allegations made by the family of a patient at St. Peter’s Hospital. After hearing of the allegations and the ensuing investigation, Attorney General Knudsen contacted a board member who set up a telephone conference with hospital executives,” spokesperson Kyler Nerison said in an emailed statement. “No one was threatened or had their clinical judgment questioned while the Department of Justice was trying to get to the bottom of the serious allegations that the hospital was mistreating a patient and violating her rights and her family’s rights. The investigation is ongoing.”
Nerison added that a patient’s family member had also said that St. Peter’s had cut off access to their relative “by refusing to allow her to receive prescribed medications, not delivering legal documents, not allowing them to see their relative, and at one point, even cutting off text message communication between them and their family member.”
In response, St. Peter’s — which, according to reports has strict visitation policies in place for preventative measures — issued a statement strongly disputing these accusations. Gallagher insisted that the hospital administration has “reviewed all medical and legal records related to these incidents, and we have verified that our teams are providing care in accordance with clinical best practice, hospital policy, and patient rights. Any allegations or assertions otherwise are unfounded.”
Montana state Sen. Theresa Manzella (R) told The Daily Beast that she, too, has reached out to the hospital via an online form, but denies making any threats.
“If someone is at death’s door and they’re circling the drain, why wouldn’t you allow them their wishes?” Manzella told the publication. “If I as an adult of sound mind want to take responsibility for my own healthcare if I get this terrible virus, I think I should have that opportunity as a free American adult.”
As for what happened with the trooper dispatched to St. Peter’s by the attorney general’s office, the Independent Record reported that the trooper found no alleged criminal offenses that required investigating.