Special Counsel Releases Report on St. Peter’s Incident

HELENA, Mont. (NMB) – A GOP Special Counsel investigation into allegations that public officials harassed and threatened St. Peter’s Hospital employees for refusing to treat a COVID-19 patient with unapproved medication was released on Monday.

The findings name the three public officials as Attorney General Austin Knudsen, Chief Deputy Attorney General Kristen Hansen, and Public Service Commissioner Jennifer Fielder.

The Special Counsel says there was no proof in the report that the public officials directly threatened or harassed hospital officials, but House Minority Leader Kim Abbott said that she viewed it as evidence of “a pattern of public officials using their power to intimidate people.”

In addition, a statement from St. Peter’s on Wednesday insists that Hospital staff were threatened and harassed by the public officials in question.

This is the first time Fielder’s name had been mentioned publicly in this investigation. Records released show that Fielder left hospital administration a voicemail, in which she said the patient was a Senate staffer that was being denied requests to take hydroxychloroquine and ivermectin. Fielder argued that the “right to try” the medications is permitted in this instance under Montana law, adding that “if this doesn’t turn out well there will be a suit.”

Fielder did not release any records for this investigation, arguing that her involvement was strictly in her personal capacity and claiming that no agency resources were used. In the voicemail, Fielder identified herself as a State Senator, despite the fact that she no longer holds that position. Fielder corrected herself later in the voicemail. Fielder also referred to the patient as a current Senate staffer, although they were not employed in that role at the time of the hospitalization.

Knudsen’s office has previously stated that they got involved in the matter because they believed a patient’s rights may have been violated, and they are still investigating the matter.

The report includes text messages between Knudsen and St. Peter’s Board member Mark Taylor. In one of the texts, Knudsen tells Taylor he is “about to send law enforcement in and file unlawful restraint charges,” because he believed the patient was being denied four things: preferred informed treatment, access to legal counsel, visitors, and the ability to leave.

According to the report, the Hospital is investigating why it took three days for the Power of Attorney documentation to be provided to the patient.

According to the report, the Highway Patrol Trooper that was dispatched to the Hospital never entered the building. The Trooper took statements in the parking lot from the patient’s family members.

The incident is alleged to have occurred on October 9th. The patient died on October 26th at the age of 82.

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