Children’s hospital CEO: ‘Could we have done better, absolutely’

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Children’s hospital CEO: ‘Could we have done better, absolutely’

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Deb Feldman, President and Chief Executive Officer of Dayton Children’s Hospital.

Dayton Children’s Hospital CEO Deb Feldman addressed hospital staff Wednesday about the handling of allegations of sexual misconduct by former pediatric gastroenterologist Dr. Arun Aggarwal.

A staff-wide email went out Wednesday after the state medical board stripped Aggarwal of his license over allegations he improperly touched the breasts of two teenage female patients. In the email, Feldman notified employees of the details of her interview with the Dayton Daily News.

The full text of Feldman’s email is below (related links added):

Today the Ohio Medical Board revoked the medical license of Dr. Arun Aggarwal after two separate complaints in 2014 while he was a physician at Dayton Children’s Hospital. The Dayton Daily News is running a series of articles on this situation. Since the medical board finished its deliberations, we wanted to respond to the paper’s questions about our process and how we handled the allegations. You will see an interview that I did with the newspaper in the upcoming stories that we expect will publish this week.

What did I share with the media? First, I told them we are deeply saddened by this situation. We have been serving the kids of this community with the highest quality care for more than 50 years. We are concerned that this story has given the impression that we did not fulfill our promise in this situation to protect our patients so we felt it was necessary to respond.

Could we have done better? Absolutely.

I explained a few of the problems we encountered. This situation was ambiguous, as we tried to determine if the concerns expressed by the family were a reflection of potential inappropriate behavior or a misunderstanding regarding a physician’s proper exam of a child. At the time, we did not have all the information available to us that was presented to the medical board.

I also said that our process failed us. However, over the past year we have already put in place three significant changes which we believe will prevent any repeat of this situation and uphold our unwavering commitment to keeping children safe.

- Established a new process of having similar concerns reviewed immediately by our child abuse experts, who will ensure that reports are promptly made to the appropriate authorities.

- Instituted one of the most conservative chaperone policies in the country to reassure parents and patients.

- In addition, we are working with our health care providers to help them do a better job of communicating to kids and parents before they examine a child, so there is no misinterpretation and we can respond in a more careful and caring manner to any concerns. This training has been developed and will roll out immediately.

I also emphasized that there was no retaliation to the employees who raised concerns about Dr. Aggarwal, and we encourage any employee to report concerns they have about the safety of the children in our care, regardless of their role. Dayton Children’s prioritizes the safety of our children above all else. We work hard to develop a culture of safety that encourages our employees to identify and report any and all safety concerns, including an anonymous alert line.

I thanked the medical board and the Dayton Police Department for their thorough and intensive investigations. I also thanked the reporter for giving us the opportunity to respond and for helping us ensure that the community knows we are committed to the health and safety of children we serve. We have learned from this and have grown stronger in our protection of children and will continue to do so moving forward.

If you have any questions, my door is always open. As I said to the Dayton Daily News reporter, we have employees who are fierce defenders of children and passionate about their health and care, so we expect them to question us when they have concerns - and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

Deborah Feldman

President & Chief Executive Officer

(END)

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