Stung by allegations that a male nurse may have sexually assaulted dozens of female patients, administrators at Citrus Memorial Hospital got another dose of bad news this week when another male employee was accused of sexual misconduct toward a female patient.
X-ray technician Bruce Edward MacFarlane, 41, was fired Tuesday because he is suspected of making sexually suggestive comments to a 28-year-old woman.
Inverness police said Thursday that they are investigating a complaint from a second woman who says MacFarlane improperly touched her Sept. 22 while giving her an X-ray exam. That woman, 33, says hospital officials ignored her complaint.
MacFarlane's firing occurred during an investigation involving former Citrus Memorial Hospital nurse Bruce Alan Young, 45, who is accused of sexually molesting five female patients while they were under anesthesia. Police say more than 90 women are involved in that investigation.
MacFarlane was friendly and upbeat during a brief conversation outside his house in Brooksville on Thursday afternoon. He denied the allegations but said he'd been planning to leave the medical profession anyway and would not fight to keep his job. He refused to talk specifically about the accusations.
"He made statements to the woman about how she looked while she undressed," Inverness police Chief Bill Vitt said of the incident for which MacFarlane was fired. "He made what she felt were improper remarks about her breasts and her body."
The incident occured at 9:30 p.m. Monday after the woman suffered a bronchial attack and went to Citrus Memorial Hospital for chest X-rays, Vitt said.
Hospital spokeswoman Megan Carella said that immediately after the incident was reported to hospital officials, MacFarlane was relieved of his duties on the night shift. He was fired Tuesday morning, she said.
"It's just a case where an employee made inappropriate comments and the hospital felt it warranted dismissal," Carella said. "I think this incident has absolutely nothing to do with the Bruce Young situation."
Carella said she had no knowledge of the incident that had occured Sept. 22, involving the 33-year-old woman.
Inverness investigator Jack Armstrong said that woman had been involved in a car accident and went to hospital about 6:30 p.m. for X-rays.
"She said a hospital employee named Bruce said improper things to her about her body and that he had touched her improperly in the lower area of her body," Armstrong said. "The X-rays had nothing to do with her lower body.
"She said she was offended and she reported what happened to the charge nurse at the emergency room, the head nurse and doctors, anybody who would listen to her."
Armstrong said the women say they were particularly frightened because the X-rays were taken at night in an area of the hospital that is under renovation and is apart from regular activity. In both cases they were alone with MacFarlane, Armstrong said.
"Both women said because that section of the hospital was not occupied, they felt more vulnerable," Armstrong said.
Vitt said both women have been told of MacFarlane's firing and they have declined to prosecute him because they feel he has been punished enough. Vitt said he will not drop the case, however, until the state attorney's office has declined to prosecute.
Carella would not say how long MacFarlane has been employeed at the hospital. But Department of Health and Environmental Rehabilitative Service records show that MacFarlane was working at HCA New Port Richey as an X-ray technician in 1992. He recieved his state license June 30, 1986.
"I see this as very unfortunate to have happened in the same time frame as the other incident," Vitt said, referring to Young's case. "It's also unfortunate that it's creating more bad publicty for the hospital.
"When we go to the hospital or doctor, we go with a feeling of trust and security, and this sort of thing can only create a certain amount of distrust in the minds of many."
The hospital faces three lawsuits in the case involving Young.
Young's new attorney, Bill Lackey, said Thursday that he might ask the court to impose a gag order aimed at attorneys, law officers, witnesses and victims involved in the high profile case.
"I've got to sit down and look over some stuff," Lackey said. "We're definitely looking into it to make sure they don't infringe on his right to a fair trial and due process."
Any such order would allow participants to discuss only official procedure. Lackey would not suggest that any participants had done wrong so far, however. Because the case has received so much publicity, he feared potential jurors could be exposed to opinions or irrelavant information.
Lackay was appointed to Young's case Wednesday because the public defender's office had a conflict of interest. One of the women who work in that office thinks she might be a victim of Young.
Staff writers Jim Ross and Kit Troyer contributed to this report.