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A 2018 investigation by the Maine Human Rights Commission found that several employees at St. Mary’s hospital had obtained the confidential medical records of disabled patients and posted them on a “wall of shame.”
The wall included detailed accounts of disabled patients’ sexual activity and descriptions of their genitals, bowel movements, and body odor.
Hospital administrators launched an investigation that they said would be completed in weeks, but it took four months for the wall of shame to be removed.
In light of recent articles highlighting the abusive conduct, the hospital and its parent company have issued public apologies.
A hospital in Maine has apologized after reports revealed several of its employees had collected the confidential medical records of disabled patients and used them to construct a cruel collage they referred to as “The Wall of Shame.” The collage was located inside a cabinet and displayed the detailed accounts of disabled patients’ sexual activity and descriptions of their genitals, bowel movements, and body odor, according to a 2018 report filed by the Maine Human Rights Commission.
The Human Rights Commission described the collage of personal medical records as, “objectively offensive.”
“The information posted on Shame Wall was intended to demean and humiliate and included supposed ‘jokes’ about the hospital’s physically and mentally disabled patients,” the report reads. The Human Rights Commission’s report was part of the public record but their gruesome findings remained largely unknown prior to a story released this week by The Bangor Daily News.
Photos of the wall of shame submitted to the Human Rights Commission report and seen by the Bangor Daily News, highlighted some of the cruel “diagnoses,” made by the hospital technicians including: “cramps/bloated/thing,” “Drooping eyelids,” “butt wounds,” “unable to insert tampon,” and “sour smell of vagina with occasional itching.”
A former hospital employee had her own medical records spied on, too
One of the hospital’s former employees, MyKayla McCann, claims her confidential medical records were also viewed after being treated on site. McCann saw the wall of shame taped to the inside of a cabinet door when she started working at the hospital but did not issue a complaint out a fear that she too might find herself a target, according to the Washington Post.
Despite her efforts to stay unnoticed, fellow employees managed to obtain her medical details after she took a leave of absence for health concerns. When she returned from her time away from work, McCann noticed her colleagues were treating her differently and that it was clear they had seen her records.
McCann reported the wall of shame to hospital administrators in the fall of 2016 and was told the issue would be dealt with within a few weeks. In reality, it took the hospital four months to remove the materials. During that time, the hospital’s IT department launched its own separate investigation and confirmed McCann’s fears: Three of her coworkers had found a way to access her records. The hospital responded by firing two technicians and reprimanding another two, according to the Human Rights Commission report. Humiliated, McCann resigned from her position in 2017. In an interview with the Bangor Daily News, she described the workplace as “intolerable.”
“We deeply regret that this situation occurred,” Stephen Grubbs, president, and CEO of Covenant Health, and Steven Jorgenson, president of St. Mary’s Health System, said in a statement to the Daily News. “[W]e sincerely apologize for the impact this situation has had on Ms. McCann.”
Officials from the hospital issued its own apology to CNN, and said they are “fully committed to ensuring this doesn’t happen again.”
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