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Mitchell County hospital denies claims made by former doctor in lawsuit
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Mitchell County hospital denies claims made by former doctor in lawsuit

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Denied.

That sums up the answer Mitchell County Regional Health Center, its CEO Shelly Russell and MercyOne have for former employee Dr. Mark Haganman, who filed a wrongful termination suit in Mitchell County District Court against the three after being fired last November.

In their 24-page answer to Haganman, filed on Wednesday, attorneys for the three defendants hit the copy-and-paste function repeatedly, denying paragraph by paragraph the allegations Haganman made that the doctor claims led to his firing.

The attorneys ask the court to dismiss the claims against them and to award them any costs and further relief the court deems appropriate.

Doctor Haganman mug

Dr. Mark Haganman

Haganman's suit, filed in early March, alleges that he collaborated with Osage community leaders to develop a plan to safely test and evaluate possible COVID-19 patients, which was to be paid for through Haganman's philanthropy, according to court documents.

CEO Russell and another doctor, Benson Hargens, opposed the plan and implemented one of their own that, according to the suit, violated state laws and public health directives.

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When Haganman raised concerns about Russell's and Hargens' plan, the suit says, he was fired on Nov. 3, 2020.

The suit further alleges that after the implementation of the Russell/Hargens' plan, COVID-19 cases "skyrocketed" in Mitchell County.

Health Center main entrance

The front entrance to the Mitchell County Regional Health Center.

MercyOne North Iowa is named in the suit because Haganman was assigned to serve at MCRHC by MercyOne through a Physician Services Agreement. He also had a separate contract directly with MCRHC to provide other services not included in his MercyOne contract, including work in the Emergency Department, according to the contract, which was attached to the lawsuit.

Haganman's dismissal generated controversy with 1,400 people signing a petition presented to MCRHC to bring him back. Citizens virtually attended a December hospital board meeting to protest the move.

A hearing setting the date for trial will be held on April 29.

Jaci Smith is the North Iowa Regional Editor for Lee Enterprises. Follow her on Twitter at @IowaJaci. Email her at Jaci.Smith@Lee.net.

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