Head of Fort Stewart’s hospital fired for giving medical care to civilian patients

Col. Townley Hedrick, Fort Stewart Garrison Commander and Col. Patrick Ahearne, commander, Winn Army Community Hospital, receive flu shots from Sgt. Cassandra Brokaw and Public Health Nurse Shaundra Robinson. It is required that all Department of the Army uniformed personnel not medically or administratively exempt to receive the seasonal flu shot. Photo by John Tongret

27-year Army vet,  Col. Patrick Ahearne, has been fired from his position as commander of Ft. Stewart’s hospital — for giving unauthorized medical care to civilians.

Ahearne was fired last month after an investigation revealed that he let patients, from a nearby medical center, come to Winn Army Community Hospital (WACH) for radiology services.

According to Army Times, Liberty Regional Medical Center was in the process of replacing radiology equipment, and wanted to avoid sending patients 35 miles away to Savannah.

Liberty Regional is located in the same city as the Army base post — in Hinesville.

Ahearne allegedly struck a deal with Liberty’s CEO — against the advice of his staff– to allow Liberty ER and non-emergency patients to receive CT scans at WACH.

According to the AR 15-6 investigation acquired by Army Times — 100 CT scans were performed on non-beneficiary patients from Jan. 25 to Feb. 10 — for an estimated cost of more than $13,000.

It was not clear how the hospital would receive payment for these services since the only information WACH had was the patients’ names.

Ahearne told investigators that Liberty officials were willing to reimburse WACH directly, but he wasn’t sure how it would work, Army Times reported.

While Ahearne was on a cruise in early February, the acting commander discovered the partnership with Liberty.  Ahearne has since told Army Times that he will be pursuing his retirement, in light of his relief.

According to the Regional Health Command-Atlantic spokeswoman, Ahearne has not been punished beyond his removal from command.

“While the methods used by Col.  Ahearne where not in accordance with Army regulations and policies, there are no indications that Col. Ahearne’s motives were anything but altruistic and in support of the local community,” Gigail Cureton said.

Ahearne released a statement saying  in part : “I take full responsibility for my actions, though I would like it known that my decision was made with only the best of intentions and with considerable planning in regard to the safety and treatment of our patients.”

Ahearne also stated that he was trying to be a ‘good community partner’ and while he was criticized for allowing unauthorized civilians to be treated at WACH– he says he only wanted to “prevent the loss of the ER to the community.”

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  • Michele graduated with a B.S. in Telecommunication from the University of Florida’s College of Journalism and Communications. She has spent numerous years working in the news industry in south Florida, including many positions ranging from being a news writer at WSVN, the Fox affiliate in Miami to being an associate news producer at WPLG-TV, the ABC affiliate in Miami. Michele has also worked in Public Relations and Marketing.

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