Sonoma West Medical Center chief nursing officer sues hospital, Dan Smith, after dismissal

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The former chief nursing officer at Sonoma West Medical Center has filed a lawsuit alleging she was illegally “forced out” of her position after she raised grave concerns about the hospital’s electronic medical records system, software that was designed by a company owned by a key medical center supporter and financial backer.

The suit, which was filed June 1 and names both the medical center and millionaire software developer Dan Smith as defendants, states that Autumn AndRa of Healdsburg was fired in response to complaints she raised about Smith’s Harmoni software.

Ray Hino, CEO of the medical center, said last week that Smith’s electronic records system posed no danger to patients and that there has never been an instance where a patient was harmed because of software defects. Hospital officials and Smith both declined to comment on the lawsuit because it was “pending litigation.”

The suit alleges that Smith, through millions of dollars in donations and loans, has used the medical center as a guinea pig for a defective electronic medical records system developed by his company.

Smith, the suit states, “has engaged in retaliation against (AndRa) and other employees who have voiced concerns that Mr. Smith’s electronic medical records system, his self-dealing, and his management of medical and financial decisions are not in the best interests of SWMC and pose life-threatening risks to patient care.”

In an interview last week, AndRa said that “from day one” the system has been riddled with problems that frustrated and worried her and other hospital staff. She said that problems arose even after state inspectors signed off on the system prior to the hospital’s opening last fall.

“I went to Ray a week before my dismissal and I said ‘this is unsafe,’” AndRa said.

According to the lawsuit, the electronic medical records system “intermingled” patients’ records and information, had problems tracking and updating patient medications, and did not display “code status” information, which is used to inform doctors of medical interventions desired by patients in the event they stop breathing or experience cardiac arrest.

“The charts were intermingling,” AndRa said. “Mr. Jones’ drugs would pop over to Mrs. Smith’s chart.”

In an interview last week, Hino said he could not speak to specific allegations made in the lawsuit.

Smith, who is president of the medical center’s board of directors, also said he was legally unable to speak about personnel matters cited in a lawsuit.

Jim Maresca, president of the board of directors of the Palm Drive Health Care District, which provides financial support to the medical center, also declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. Maresca, however, said the Harmoni medical records system was safe and posed no danger to patients.

The suit states that AndRa was terminated from her position as chief nursing officer on April 14. Her attorney Daniel Bartley said Monday that she was offered a position in the hospital’s intensive care unit, a move that would have been a “demotion.”

Bartley said that because of Smith’s alleged harassment, AndRa did not want to stay at the medical center.

You can reach Staff Writer Martin Espinoza at 521-5213 or On Twitter @renofish.

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