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Maine hospital staff kept 'wall of shame' mocking intimate details from disabled patients' medical records

Employees taped up snippets 'detailing patients' sexual activity, genital dysfunction, bowel movements, bodily odors and other maladies'

Image source: KTVU-TV video screenshot

Employees at a hospital in Maine kept a "wall of shame" mocking intimate details from disabled patients' confidential medical records, an investigation by the state's Human Rights Commission found.

What are the details?

The commission launched a probe based on a complaint filed in 2016 by MyKayla McCann, who reported that some of her colleagues at St. Mary's Regional Medical Center in Lewiston clipped out and taped up snippets from patients' files — arranged in a collage — on the inside of a cabinet door.

McCann also became suspicious that staff had even reviewed her medical records following a treatment she received at the hospital for a disability, after co-workers mocked her for her undisclosed ailment. McCann, then a laboratory technician assistant at St. Mary's, reported the "wall of shame" and her other concerns to hospital supervisors before resigning within a matter of months.

According to a human rights commission investigator's report, the wall of shame "included information detailing patients' sexual activity, genital dysfunction, bowel movements, bodily odors and other personal maladies," the Bangor Daily News reported.

"Coworkers constructed a workplace display ridiculing patients with disabilities. [McCann] encountered the display every day as part of her regular environment, making harassment pervasive," the investigator added, according to CNN. "The information posted on the Shame Wall was intended to demean and humiliate and included supposed 'jokes' about the hospital's physically and mentally disabled patients."

McCann claims the display was up for three or four months, but St. Mary's insists it was taken down after a few weeks. One employee was fired and another received a warning in connection with the matter.

The commission determined that although the wall of shame did contribute to a hostile work environment, it did not find that the hospital retaliated against McCann for reporting her concerns, KTVU-TV reported.

Anything else?

The presidents of Covenant Health and St. Mary's Health System — the parent companies of the Lewiston hospital — issued a joint letter offering a public apology over the ordeal on Thursday.

"We deeply regret that this situation occurred," the letter stated, "[W]e sincerely apologize for the impact this situation has had on Ms. McCann."

The executives added, "It is important to know that St. Mary's Health System took immediate action to investigate and address Ms. McCann's concerns, and took appropriate disciplinary action for others who were involved. We are fully committed to ensuring this doesn't happen again."

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