PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) – An attorney for seven women accusing a former Legacy Emanuel Hospital employee of sexual abuse said Friday the hospital received numerous complaints that went unheard.
Jeffrey McAllister, an ex-emergency room nurse arrested last July on allegations he sexually assaulted nearly a dozen patients, faces 10 criminal complaints.
But Legacy Emanuel only looked into three such charges, an apparent oversight that worried federal health authorities, KOIN 6 News learned Friday.
One of the women who accused McAlister told KOIN 6 News she is still suffering from emotional trauma. She said she’s become more anxious and now wants to fight back by telling her story.
“I want to fight them because I don’t think it should happen to women after me,” she said.
In October 2009, the woman — who asked to remain anonymous — went to the emergency room at Legacy Emanuel. That’s when, she said, she was sexually abused by McAlister.
“I called down (to Legacy Emanuel) and spoke with a woman and I had told her that Jeffrey McAlister had touched me inappropriately,” she said. “I waited for her call for about a week and never received a call back.”
She said she called back but still heard nothing back.
“I know they didn’t care, I know they didn’t, because just the way she was to me on the phone was so brief, like she didn’t ask me any real questions. I had to ask everything.”
She said she felt Legacy Emanuel “probably hadn’t believed me anyway since I haven’t gotten a response back. How do I fight them? So I just gave up.”
The hospital received a stern warning letter from the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid services threatened to cut about $250 million in Medicaid payments to the hospital, a hospital official confirmed.
A concern attorney Mark McDougal said could lead to trouble for Legacy Emanuel.
“Hospitals have systems in place — patient care is a No. 1 concern — bedside manner is a concern even if you don’t believe people. What are you going to do with somebody who has a bedside manner who has all these complaints? Once, twice complaints of a sexual nature and you’re not writing them down?”
Legacy Emanuel officials declined to speak with KOIN 6 News, but did release a statement. It said, in part:
“With the benefit of 20/20 hindsight, we truly wish we would have uncovered his conduct earlier. But at this time, we followed an investigation process that we believed was reasonable under the circumstances.”
McAllister awaits a criminal trial, expected to begin this fall.
McAllister worked at Legacy as an emergency room technician from 2005-2008, and as a registered nurse from 2008-2013. He was fired after April 2013. Portland police said he worked as a nurse at St. Vincent Hospital and Mid-Columbia Center.
He was also a police officer for the Seaside and Beaverton police departments between 1996-2004. McAllister worked as a reserve officer for the Independence Police Department in 1997.