Two more women have come forward saying that Jason Campbell, MD, formerly an anesthesia resident at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU), came up behind them and pushed his body into theirs at work, according to a report in the Oregonian. The new allegations echo those made by a social worker in a federal lawsuit filed on February 26.
A third woman said Campbell followed her around her unit in 2019, asking “for free hugs,” the Oregonian reported.
The Oregonian reports that the declarations of the women, who are nurses and are not named in the declarations, were filed Sunday night in US District Court in Portland by the social worker’s lawyers.
More than a dozen founding members of TIME’S UP Healthcare (TUHC) have resigned from the organization in the past several days in fallout from the lawsuit, which names two other TUHC cofounders. The nonprofit foundation is dedicated to eradicating sexual harassment and gender discrimination in healthcare arenas.
Last week, Medscape Medical News reported that Esther Choo, MD, MPH, an emergency medicine physician at OHSU, was one of several leaders at the university accused in the lawsuit of being complicit in mishandling sexual harassment and assault allegations against Campbell.
The $45 million lawsuit, which names OHSU and Campbell as defendants, alleges that Campbell, known as the “TikTok Doc” for dancing in his scrubs on social media, sexually harassed and assaulted a coworker, who is not named in the suit, at Portland’s Veterans Affairs Medical Center, where he occasionally worked as an anesthesia resident.
Laura Stadum, PhD, Title IX coordinator at OHSU, and also a TUHC cofounder, was also mentioned in the lawsuit, though neither she nor Choo is listed as a defendant.
Choo, through a spokesperson, on Sunday defended her actions and disputed the lawsuit’s allegations about her.
“If this litigation moves forward, documentary evidence will demonstrate conclusively that Dr. Choo’s conduct could not have been more different from what has been erroneously suggested about Dr. Choo in the past few days,” according to the statement released by Choo’s spokeswoman, Molly Levinson.
The statement continues, “the survivor did not inform Dr. Choo of key details about the behavior at issue here when it happened. As a result, Dr. Choo was not aware of the full scope of Dr. Campbell’s wrongdoing. Even so, when the survivor raised the issue with Dr. Choo, Dr. Choo acted in a way that was completely consistent with her values, offering to do everything she could do to support Plaintiff, while respecting her friend’s agency in making decisions about what to do. The survivor made clear she intended to report the issues herself, and so Dr. Choo respected the survivor’s wishes.”
Resignations, Dissent From TIME’S UP Members
Tina Tchen, president and CEO of the TIME’S UP Foundation, responded to the lawsuit in a statement:
“First and foremost, TIME’S UP is in solidarity with the survivor in her decision to share her story. Coming forward takes tremendous strength and courage, and often comes at great professional and personal cost. She should be heard and treated with respect as she pursues justice.
“Because Dr. Choo is at most a witness to these events and may have to testify about them, it is not appropriate for Dr. Choo or TIME’S UP to comment further on matters in litigation.
“We wanted to reiterate that TIME’S UP remains committed to addressing the pervasiveness of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in health care and across industries. We remain supportive of survivors and will continue our mission to fight for safer, more equitable workplaces.”
Within a few days, though, resignations by many of the TUHC cofounders began to appear on Twitter.
Founding member Sarah Diekman, MD, JD, with Johns Hopkins Medical Center in Baltimore, Maryland, told Medscape Medical News that over the weekend she resigned from TUHC after it became clear the founding members’ voices were not being heard and that staying in the organization would cause pain to survivors.
As to the future of Time’s Up Healthcare in light of the resignations, Diekman said, “I don’t think they care about us leaving. I don’t think my thoughts or my presence mattered there.”
As part of a statement she issued in resigning, she said, “I have consistently felt like an annoyance to leadership, despite my unique experience of legal policy advocacy against harassment within healthcare.”
She told Medscape Medical News it was the voice of survivors contacting her directly that pushed her to make the break now.
“They were asking me why Time’s Up was doing what it was doing and wasn’t doing more and feeling profoundly betrayed. That was irreconcilable,” Diekman said.
“I can’t stand behind an organization that people are telling me is hurting them. If I can’t change its direction, then I have to leave. I could not have a heavier heart or be sadder about the whole thing.”
TUHC cofounder Vinny Arora, MD, an academic hospitalist at University of Chicago Medicine, tweeted her resignation from TUHC on Friday, saying, “Today, after careful thought and engaging in ongoing deliberations, I have come to realize I can no longer serve in my role as a Founding Member of TIME’S UP Healthcare. I have appreciated the opportunity to champion the cause and work with TUHC founders for whom I have deep respect.”
Angela Lawson, PhD, associate professor of obstetrics/gynecology and psychiatry at Northwestern Medicine in Chicago, said on March 2, “My continued involvement with TUHC will depend in large part on the manner in which they respond to these allegations.”
Days later, she posted, “Earlier today I resigned from @TIMESUPHC. I disagree with the narrative that making no meaningful statement helps to center the story on survivors. Instead, it only generates more distractions from her story. I remain passionate and committed to the fight to end harassment.”
Another cofounder, Dara Kass, MD, an emergency physician at Columbia University Medical Center in New York City, pointed to the foundation’s statement and wrote on Twitter : “I have deleted all other tweets in reference to this case on my feed to re-focus on the survivor and supporting her case. I will not be commenting further.”
Stella Safo, MD, MPH, at Mt. Sinai in New York City, posted that more answers are needed.
“Hoping the resignations from TUHC don’t end the conversation there,” she posted. “What went wrong? How do we continue the cause for gender equity in health care? Super hard questions to ask now, but resignations without exploration doom us to repeat these mistakes.”
As reported previously, Campbell now lives in Florida. He was put on leave from his job at the University of Florida in Gainesville after the university learned of the allegations, Ken Garcia, a university spokesperson, told Medscape Medical News last week.
Marcia Frellick is a freelance journalist based in Chicago. She has previously written for the Chicago Tribune and Nurse.com and was an editor at the Chicago Sun-Times, the Cincinnati Enquirer, and the St. Cloud (Minnesota) Times. Follow her on Twitter at @mfrellick.
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