Washington Hospital

An estimated dozen employees of Washington Health System have been suspended during an in-house investigation of alleged inappropriate access to patient records, a WHS official confirmed Monday.

Larry Pantuso, vice president of strategy and clinical services, said he did not know how many workers had been suspended or whether they are being paid while off work, but that the number could be lower or higher than a dozen.

He said the affected employees have access to patients’ records, but the investigation is focusing on whether the method of access was “inappropriate.” Pantuso added that the matter is internal.

Reportedly, the employees violated the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 rules.

“I can tell you as of right now nobody has lost his or her job,” Pantuso said. “With something like this, we try to do things (like an investigation) as expeditiously as possible.”

The matter is believed to have been related to the untimely death of Kimberly Dollard, 57, of Amwell Township, on June 6. Dollard, an employee of WHS’ Neighbor Health Center, was killed when a car careening out of control rammed into the building. The driver, Chad Spence, 43, of Weirton, W.Va., and another person were admitted to area hospitals with injuries following the crash, which occurred about 12:30 p.m.

Pantuso said he could not confirm or deny that link, but said the suspensions are “related to a high-profile case.”

Business Writer

Rick Shrum joined the Observer-Reporter as a reporter in 2012, after serving as a section editor, sports reporter and copy editor at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Rick has won eight individual writing awards, including two Golden Quills.

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