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Recall effort targets Washington Hospital doctor

There’s still fallout at Washington Hospital from Evelyn Li’s film, “Life For Sale.” Doctors, backed by the hospital administration, have started a recall petition against Dr. Bhupinder Bhandari, several sources tell me. Bhandari had been elected by the hospital’s doctors to become Chief of Medical Staff next year.

Bhandari was one of three Washington doctors interviewed in Li’s documentary. Bhandari’s comments were vanilla, and he didn’t specifically refer to Washington Hospital, but the hospital is furious over the film, which it says has no merit.

How mad are they? Well at last week’s board meeting, elected trustees clapped when one doctor urged the board to respond “severely, quickly and expeditiously,” against the doctors who participated in the film.

Later, Hospital CEO Nancy Farber read aloud a petition signed by 276 nurses proclaiming they no longer wanted to work with the doctors and asking the hospital to take action against them.

And, in an even more unusual move, Farber showed security photographs taken of a rally outside the hospital last month and pointed out two doctors who stood with protesters as well as a candidate for the board, Ravi Johal. She intimated that the protest wasn’t organized by nurses’ union over staffing concerns, as was billed, but by Li and supporters of her movie.

Bhandari spoke at the meeting and apologized for his participation in the film.

In seven years of reporting, which has included countless public meetings, I’ve never seen a scene like that. CEOs of public entities do not read aloud calls to essentially fire staff. They also do not show security photographs of a peaceful protest and point out that a hospital doctor and a candidate for the board were in attendance.  But that’s what happened. It was truly stunning.

Matt Artz