HELENA — Leaders with St. Peter’s Health say a doctor whose unexplained absence led to questions in the community – and eventually legal action – is no longer employed there.
In a letter released by St. Peter’s Tuesday evening, CEO Wade Johnson said Dr. Tom Weiner, an oncologist, was no longer employed and would not be caring for patients at their Cancer Treatment Center.
“The circumstances that led to Dr. Weiner’s absence are ongoing and remain a confidential matter,” Johnson’s letter said. “However, in the weeks following his departure, information has come to light that requires us to make some difficult decisions in the Cancer Treatment Center.”
The letter said the Cancer Treatment Center is currently operating with three board-certified oncologists and that St. Peter’s is attempting to “aggressively recruit” additional ones.
“The quality and safety of the care we provide to all patients is our highest priority,” Johnson’s letter continued. “In fact, it is because of our increased focus on quality and safety that we identified and are addressing these issues.”
The letter goes on to say oncologists are reviewing all patients’ diagnoses and treatment plans, and that patients who need an oncologist’s care will have the opportunity to discuss their treatment plans at their next appointments.
Weiner had worked at the St. Peter’s Cancer Treatment Center for more than two decades. Last month, many of his patients began reporting he was out of the office and questioning the reason for his absence. St. Peter’s eventually confirmed that he was out but said the reasons were “private and confidential” and they could not provide more information.
Last week, a group of patients filed a class-action lawsuit seeking damages against St. Peter’s, claiming that Weiner’s sudden absence had severely disrupted their ongoing treatment.
“In making the rash decision to terminate care for all of Dr. Weiner’s patients, the hospital failed to provide reasonable continuity of care,” the complaint said.
In the suit, plaintiffs claimed Weiner had been abruptly removed from his position in October and escorted from the building. They accused St. Peter’s of wrongfully interfering with their physician-patient relationship, failing to provide them with information on who else they could receive care from, and inflicting undue stress, anxiety and other negative impacts.
According to the complaint, more than 100 of Weiner’s patients have joined or are interested in joining the lawsuit.