Former infection control coordinator sues Missouri River Medical Center claiming wrongful termination

A former employee at Fort Benton, Mo.-based Missouri River Medical Center has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit against the hospital claiming she was fired in retaliation for reporting a violation of policy by upper level management at the facility, according to the Independent Record.

In her lawsuit, Shannon Walden, former infection control coordinator at MRMC, claims she learned residents and staff at MRMC had scabies in March 2015. She said she recommended the center treat infected patients according to guidelines published by the CDC.

Ms. Walden alleges MRMC ignored her recommendations and the outbreak grew to affect eight to 10 residents and staff.

After numerous complaints from the community, officials from the Montana Department of Health and Human Services visited the facility in May 2015. Ms. Walden claims she told investigators the director of nursing was more concerned with cost-saving measures and was not following proper guidelines to treat infected patients.

A report by the department of health said of six residents sampled, all six showed symptoms of scabies. The report also said patients were not properly isolated and cared for after being diagnosed with scabies. It notes that the hospital did not keep detailed medical records of how patients were treated after being diagnosed.

After a continued lack of response by the center, Ms. Walden contacted OSHA in June and July 2015. On Aug. 24, 2015, Ms. Walden sent an email saying MRMC's director of nursing had lied about the number of scabies cases at the center during a call with Great Falls, Benefis Health System and physicians, according to the report.  

Ms. Walden was fired Sept. 1 and asked to leave the center immediately. According to court documents, the center must provide employees with two weeks' notice prior to termination. Ms. Walden claims she still has not received written justification explaining her termination. Documents released by MRMC said Ms. Walden was fired because of a "required reduction in workforce and budgetary shortfalls."

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