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Mayor Praises Suspensions in Pap Mix-Up

May 20, 2005 | Newsday Mayor Michael Bloomberg said yesterday that he was satisfied the appropriate disciplinary action was taken at a Bronx hospital that failed to notify more than 300 women of abnormal Pap test results dating back 16 months.

"Clearly, it was one person that did it, but the question is: was the supervision adequate going up the chain, and I think the answer is clearly no," he said, adding that Alan Aviles, acting president of the Health and Hospitals Corp., "right away suspended a whole bunch of people and is conducting an investigation."

The mayor said that he is monitoring the situation and would take additional action if deemed necessary.

"I think there's no question we take it phenomenally seriously. We are playing with people's lives here and one clerk really does in this world often have the lives of people in their hands," he said during a ribbon cutting for a new park at 56th Street and the West Side Highway in Manhattan. "Let us hope that in this case, nobody's life in the end turns out to have been jeopardized."

Three high-level officials at Jacobi Medical Center, including executive director Joseph Orlando and an administrative clerk have been suspended without pay for 30 days. The clerk, who handled more than 5,000 test results, allegedly failed to notify the women of abnormal Pap test findings - including 30 who were at great risk for cervical cancer.

All but one of the women have been informed of the error, city officials said.

Dr. Van Dunn, chief medical officer at HHC, which oversees Jacobi, said Wednesday that staff is now required to inform patients of abnormal Pap test results daily.

The mayor's comments yesterday came after Fernando Ferrer, who is seeking the Democratic nomination for mayor, blasted Bloomberg for waiting four days to respond to the incident.

"Bloomberg's response to the crisis at Jacobi has been unacceptable, fire the executives, notify the patients, do 'spot checks' at other HHC hospitals," Ferrer said in a statement. "I don't think New Yorkers should be satisfied with 'spot checks.'"

City Council Deputy Majority Leader Bill Perkins (D-Manhattan) has called for an independent investigation, saying the hospital can't be trusted to police itself.

An investigation by the state Health Department continues.

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