Hospital official reacts to widow's allegations in skier's death

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.

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 's picture

Jennifer Chretien

Jennifer Chretien writes,
"Hospital officials would have been extremely irresponsible to make any kind of public statement based on information they heard from a newspaper reporter."

Once again, they heard it from Dana Morse before she ever went to a newspaper. She had just been abandoned by an ambulance at a roadside, in the snow, with her husband dying. Do you think she didn't tell the ER staff what happened? Of course she did, as that's how she learned (after they phoned the ambulance) that her husband was dead and the ambulance had returned to Sugarloaf. The hospital should have launched its investigation immediately, if they cared. What on earth more do you think Ms. Morse should have done before going to the press?

"You may see it as stalling I see it as being smart."

Oh, that's real smart all right--but only if they are afraid of telling the truth. This incident happened a week ago--they've had plenty of time to say "Yes, we did what she said we did," or "No, we didn't do that, and here's what happened instead." Apparently it doesn't serve their interests to be honest with the public.

"Just because the ER staff had spoken to Mrs. Morse and told her that her husband had not come into the ER does not equal the hospital administration being contacted by the family or having any more detail about the situation."

She told them more than that, and they told her more than that. What do you want? If they needed more detail they could have contacted her.

"Why don't we let the facts come to light"

WE ARE NOT STOPPING THE FACTS FROM COMING TO LIGHT! But only Dana Morse seems interested in bringing the facts to light. Apparently some people don't like the facts as she has revealed them.

"before we play judge, jury and executioner to this ambulance crew and FMH as a whole."

Oh, good grief. We're talking about a rich, powerful organization which practically owns our community. They think they can get away with anything, and as long as the public looks the other way when their abuses are reported, they will go on thinking that.

 's picture

Hospital should have known about it

This claim by a hospital official that "the hospital was not even contacted by any family member" has to be called in question in view of the following:

"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."

Presumably they had some idea what she was talking about by the time she left, and all this was before Ms. Morse had any oportunity to go to the press. I think hospital officials are stalling because there is no excuse for the way their ambulance personnel treated Dana Morse.

Jennifer Chretien's picture

Hospital officials would have

Hospital officials would have been extremely irresponsible to make any kind of public statement based on information they heard from a newspaper reporter. You may see it as stalling I see it as being smart. Just because the ER staff had spoken to Mrs. Morse and told her that her husband had not come into the ER does not equal the hospital administration being contacted by the family or having any more detail about the situation. Why don't we let the facts come to light before we play judge, jury and executioner to this ambulance crew and FMH as a whole. I would rather this is dealt with thoroughly and rationally but that's my opinion.

Steve  Dosh's picture

Hospital official reacts to widow's allegations in skier's death

Andie , 12.01.16 15:25
It happens . A friend of mine drove him self from Shawnee Peak to Bridgton Hospital whilst and during his heart attack once . Dumb . Call 9.11 Al next time . i helped try to save a guy from Quebec once in Tuckermann's Ravine who skied off a cliff ? 1 9 7 2 . Skiing accidents are all too common . He was a goner . Blood coming out of his ears , nose, and mouth . We took him down to Pinkham Notch in a litter
". . Bono died on January 5, 1998, a month and 11 days short of his 63rd birthday, of injuries sustained when he hit a tree while skiing on the Nevada side of Heavenly Ski Resort near South Lake Tahoe, California.[14] His death came just a little less than a week after Michael Kennedy, a son of Robert F. Kennedy, died in a similar skiing accident in Aspen, Colorado. " ref : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sonny_Bono
Maine has a great , 1st rate EMS , fire , first reponder , ski patrol , and hospital system . i am sure they did all they could and David Morse was doing what he loved best
Our sincerest condolences to those affected n e way . No way to replace your loss
/s, Dr. Dosh

Jennifer Chretien's picture

These are very serious

These are very serious allegations and I do believe they will be investigated thoroughly by FMH officials. I do understand Mr. Morse's wife is grieving and this is a very hard thing to deal with right now. Having said that it's my opinion that these kind of allegations should have been reported to the hospital before being brought to the media.

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