Duane Francis, Mid-Columbia Medical Center chief executive officer, reacted to the judgment rendered in the almost four-week-long trial.
“We are gratified and feel vindicated in one sense that there were no punitive damages awarded either on the hospital or for Ms. Storby or for myself,” Francis said.
“That is clear acknowledgement by the jury that we showed no malice, no intent to hide, obscure, dissuade or thwart the investigation and we were incredibly gratified and agreed fully with that.”
Francis said both he and Storby moved forward “once we knew what we knew and based on what we did” to fully investigate and use the resources to bring Dr. Fredrick Field to justice.
“Third,” Francis said, “we understand that and interpret the decision made by the jury that these poor women were abused by a person in a position of trust in our hospital and it shouldn’t have happened. We could not agree more. We feel that the finding of negligence was a finding by the jury that these women had suffered battery by this sociopathic deviant and that they should be compensated for their pain and suffering. We could not agree more. We just feel like the person who should be held responsible for the compensation for that punishment was not in the room.”
Francis differed with the outcome on the question of whether the hospital itself was negligent and responsible for that compensation. Despite that difference, Francis praised the 12 jurors for their diligence and said he understands their intention.
“Finally, our statement is that we feel during the course of the trial there were a number of questionable and incorrect decisions, rulings and actions taken by the bench that opened this case for appeal and we are considering as we speak appealing the verdict that was rendered,” Francis said.
Francis reiterated that, as was testified in the trial, the hospital undertook a thorough review and evaluation of its procedures, policies and safety processes and determined that “everything necessary, all the safeguards we could reasonably put in place were in place before and are now. We have stepped up our vigilance to make sure we adhere to the policies that are in place. There was some intimation during the trial that we didn’t care. Nothing could be further from the truth. We reviewed all the protocols and procedures in place and the safeguards we have to keep patients safe.”
Francis said the health care profession is one where trust is highly regarded and assumed and that clinicians are highly trained through four years of college, four years of medical school, a year or two of internship and two to four years of residency. They are vetted and evaluated through that process and are required to take and subscribe to the Hippocratic Oath. They are further licensed by the state board and their background is vetted.
“That brings with it a significant amount of trust that these are honorable people, that these are people who deserve the trust we give them, like police officers and clergy,” Francis said. “Certainly, through this process some of that changes your perspective. A little bit of innocence is lost. Still, we will continue to go through the process of evaluating and credentialing carefully those who provide services in the hospital. But I have to say this has changed my perspective, before and after. I can’t tell you that it hasn’t changed.”