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Bartlett looking into firing of clinic's medical director

May 30, 2008|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

WASHINGTON COUNTY -- The firing of the Tri-State Community Health Center's medical director has attracted the attention of U.S. Rep. Roscoe Bartlett, his press secretary, Lisa Wright, said Friday.

Wright said Bartlett is gathering facts about what happened and deciding whether to get involved, since the center - which operates clinics in Hancock, McConnellsburg, Pa., and Cumberland, Md. - gets federal funding.

There's been public backlash over the firing of Dr. Matthew Hahn about four weeks ago. Supporters have protested in letters, e-mails and personal appeals to the center's board of directors, arguing that Hahn is a caring doctor who serves the community well.

The board won't say why Hahn lost his job, calling it a personnel matter.

Last week, Hahn released a statement saying he was fired for trying to "assist a large number of Tri-State's employees to bring significant workplace problems to light."

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His attorney, Lynne Bernabei, said last week that employees were upset about various problems and turned to Hahn to relay their concerns.

Executive Director Leslie Colbrese fired Hahn April 30, Bernabei said, and Hahn had 90 days - until the end of July - to leave.

But last week, after Hahn grieved his firing, the center's board of directors told him to stop working right away, although he would get paid for the 90 days, Bernabei said.

Bernabei said Hahn, who worked at the center for about eight years, is focusing on how he can practice again in the Tri-State area.

A statement that Colbrese e-mailed Friday challenges the accuracy of news stories about Hahn's departure, but doesn't allege any specific mistakes. It says:

"Tri-State Community Health Center was founded on the basis of providing quality health care to everyone in the community it serves regardless of their ability to pay. Today, that mission continues to direct the organization in all services it provides and decisions made.

"Tri-State believes in supporting not only its patients but also its staff. The organization can only function with committed and supportive staff and patients. Included in this philosophy is the responsibility to maintain relentless professionalism and confidentiality.

"Because it holds this standard, we are unable to provide any information with regards to Dr. Hahn as it is a confidential personnel matter. However, we will affirm that the information that was provided in several recent articles is unsubstantiated and not fully accurate."

Colbrese said during a phone conversation that, at the advice of an attorney, she couldn't elaborate on the allegation of inaccurate information.

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