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Chief Pharmacy Officer Out At Mount Carmel

The head of Mount Carmel Health's pharmacy operation has left the hospital.

In an email obtained by WOSU, Chief Pharmacy Officer Janet Whittey writes she is no longer working for Mount Carmel as of Tuesday, Feb. 5. Writing to the State of Ohio Board of Pharmacy, Whittey said she is no longer the "responsible pharmacist" for the hospital.

Whittey is the second-known person to leave the system amid an investigation into the ordering of “excessive and potentially fatal” doses of painkillers for patients. The hospital fired doctor William Husel in December, saying he ordered the medication for at least 34 patients. Many of those patients died after being administered the drugs.

Earlier this week, Whittey was named in a wrongful death lawsuit against the health system from the family of Melissa Penix, who died Nov. 20, 2018 after receiving 2,000 micrograms of fentanyl.

Timeline: The Mount Carmel Scandal So Far

The lawsuit alleges “Whittey was aware of inappropriate and unsafe prescribing, approving, and administrating of Fentanyl” and says she “failed to take action to prevent such inappropriate Fentanyl use from reoccurring.”  

Husel was removed from patient care the day after Penix died. 

"Only after Melissa Penix’s life was terminated, did Mount Carmel take any steps to prevent Dr. Husel’s actions from harming any further patients," the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit also names Mount Carmel Health System, doctor William Husel, pharmacist Gregory White, and nurse Wesley Black.

A Mount Carmel spokeswoman declined to comment on Whittey’s status, including whether she resigned or was fired. Mount Carmel has placed at least 23 employees on leave while it investigates dosing practices.

So far, 13 wrongful death lawsuits have been filed against Mount Carmel, Husel, and other employees by the families of Husel’s patients. The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid last week placed Mount Carmel in "immediate jeopardy"of losing federal funding, and has requested the hospital submit a corrective action plan.

Husel’s medical license was suspended last month by the State Medical Board of Ohio.

If you are a Mount Carmel staffer who has information to share, or you believe your loved one or family member was impacted by this case, contact WOSU at paige.pfleger@wosu.org.

Paige Pfleger is a former reporter for WOSU, Central Ohio's NPR station. Before joining the staff of WOSU, Paige worked in the newsrooms of NPR, Vox, Michigan Radio, WHYY and The Tennessean. She spent three years in Philadelphia covering health, science, and gender, and her work has appeared nationally in The Washington Post, Marketplace, Atlas Obscura and more.