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Government & Politics

St. Peter's CEO says he didn't feel threatened by attorney general over COVID care

 St. Peter's Health in Helena, MT
St. Peter's Health in Helena, MT

A special legislative counsel has released more details about an incident between Montana’s attorney general and a hospital in Helena regarding the care of a COVID-19 patient.

The special counsel's report found that St. Peter’s CEO Wade Johnson "did not feel threatened" during a call with Attorney General Austin Knudsen. The report does not mention the reactions of the hospital’s chief medical officer and a board member who were also on the call.

The Montana State News Bureau first reported in October that St. Peter’s Health said three public officials harassed and threatened its providers when doctors declined a patient’s request for a treatment that is not authorized for use against COVID-19.

The other two officials named in the report are Deputy Attorney General Kris Hansen and Public Service Commissioner Jennifer Fielder. The special counsel report found all three suggested during the incident that legal action would be taken on behalf of the patient against St. Peter’s.

Knudsen has maintained that he was investigating allegations of serious mistreatment of a patient. Republican legislative leaders say the report shows there’s no evidence that Knudsen harassed medical providers.

Democratic leaders, who requested the report, say it’s incomplete and does not absolve the attorney general from any wrongdoing, and that he used intimidation. They plan to request more information.

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