Task force in place, employees suspended
By St. Clair Murraine
Outlook staff writer
BLOUNTSTOWN — Fallout continued to surface Monday over the death of Barbara Dawson with two Liberty Calhoun Hospital employees being removed from patient care and another being placed on unpaid administrative leave.
The disclosure came at the same time that the hospital’s
CEO Ruth Attaway and Tallahassee’s Rev. R. B. Holmes named the members of a task force intended to recommend changes at the hospital.
Attaway also said that FDLE has completed an investigation of the circumstances surrounding Dawson’s death, along with the Agency for Healthcare Administration and the Florida Department of Health. The hospital is just beginning its own investigation, she added.
Liberty Calhoun Hospital has been under scrutiny since Dawson’s death on Dec. 21. She went to the hospital seeking treatment for breathing problems, but was forcibly taken from the hospital by police in handcuffs.
Dawson collapsed and died alongside a police car in the hospital’s parking lot. Attorneys for Dawson’s family released copies of the police dashcam video last week.
“There was a general look of a lack of compassion and I don’t ever want to see that happen again,” Attaway said, vehemently denounced the action that led up to the time that Dawson died.
“That cuts to the heart because healthcare, compassion (and) patient care is what we are about,” she said. “We are about saving lives. We don’t want to lose anybody.”
Holmes, president of the local chapter of the National Action Network, immediately after Dawson’s death suggested the task force with the intention of finding ways to avoid a similar situation that led to the event.
The task force will encourage recommendations from the community, he said.
“This is a very important moment,” Holmes said. “We are here to heal this community. … to make sure we talk about real, real transparency.
“We know we can’t bring Barbara Dawson back, but we can bring about greater community support. We must strengthen this hospital. This community needs this hospital (and) the CEO is committed to the strengthening of this hospital.”
Several members of the task force attended the afternoon press conference in front of the hospital, where Attaway announced her action against the three employees.
The eight-member task force is made up of representatives with ties to FAMU and FSU, as well as clergy and others in the medical field. Holmes and Attaway will oversee it, while Dr. Cyneetha Strong will chair its meetings. Both Holmes and Attaway appointed members of the task force.
The task force will hold its first meeting on Jan. 28 and it’s expected to take 90 days to come up with recommendations.
Attaway said the task force is the first step to measures for continued improvements at the hospital.
“I don’t want to get past this.” she said. “I don’t want to forget Miss Dawson. I want that to be in my heart and it makes a difference in every action that we have here at this hospital.”