FARMINGTON — An official with Franklin Memorial Hospital responded Sunday to a list of allegations made by the widow of David Morse, who died Thursday following a skiing accident at Sugarloaf.
Among her criticisms, Dana Morse told a reporter with the Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia, is that the crew from NorthStar Ambulance left her by the side of the road when she asked to climb into the back of the vehicle to be with her dying husband and hold his hand.
She also charged EMTs with not taking proper care of her husband and said she performed cardiopulmonary resuscitation on her husband in front of paramedics, according to the story, which ran Sunday in the Canadian newspaper.
According to the newspaper, the Kingston woman is a nurse practitioner with more than 20 years experience, including 10 years working in an intensive care unit. Morse told a reporter she had grave concerns about the care paramedics gave her husband and said she plans to launch a complaint with Franklin Memorial Hospital, which owns the NorthStar Ambulance Service.
"None of these allegations have been made to the hospital to the best of my knowledge," said Ralph Johnson, chief information officer for Franklin Memorial Hospital. "We certainly take this seriously and will begin an investigation into it immediately."
Morse told the Chronicle Herald her husband was alert and talking to her the whole time, but had significant abdominal pain. She charged that EMTs were ill-prepared to care for her husband, didn't even have the equipment needed to take his blood pressure and never started an IV until he was in the ambulance.
She estimated paramedics spent at least 30 minutes with her husband at the clinic before putting him into the ambulance, at which point he went into cardiac arrest and Morse performed CPR with the help of a nurse who worked at the medical clinic at the base of the mountain.
Johnson said Sunday evening he first learned about Morse's complaint when contacted by a reporter from the Chronicle Herald on Saturday and even then didn't know the full extent of her story until reading it online Sunday. He went on to explain that he contacted NorthStar Ambulance Director David Robie, who also was unaware of the allegations against his paramedics.
In her account to The Chronicle Herald, Morse said that the ambulance dropped her off by the side of the road. She flagged down a passerby, who drove her back to Sugarloaf where she got her car and drove the hour to Franklin Memorial Hospital. She said emergency room crews at the hospital had no idea what or who she was talking about when she arrived.
Morse called the ordeal "a comedy of horrors." She said she arrived at the hospital only to learn her husband died minutes after she was left by the side of the road and that the ambulance taking him returned to Sugarloaf rather than proceeding to the hospital. It was not clear why the paramedics returned to the clinic.
Johnson also had no answer as to why EMTs turned around and returned to Sugarloaf. He said the ambulance had been dispatched from the NorthStar base in Carrabassett Valley. He did not know the names of the paramedics involved, nor could he speak as to whether they were on any kind of administrative leave in the wake of Thursday's incident.
"The bottom line is this: the hospital was caught completely off guard here as we were not even contacted by any family member," Johnson said.
When contacted at her home in Nova Scotia, Dana Morse's father answered and told the Sun Journal his daughter declined to answer any questions about her allegations or the hospital's response.
Dana Morse did not offer any criticism of Sugarloaf. She told the Chronicle Herald that the ski patrol responded quickly and efficiently moved her husband to the resort's medical clinic to await the ambulance's arrival.