'Jurisdictional' questions raised after public officials 'harassed' Montana doctors who refused to treat COVID patient with ivermectin
At St. Peter's Health in Helena, Montana, a COVID-19 patient recently asked to be treated with ivermectin — a deworming drug that is typically used for cattle but is being pushed by far-right Trumpistas and conspiracy theorists as an anti-COVID drug. But hospital workers refused and said they were "harassed" by three Montana officials because of that refusal. Now, Montana officials are debating the role that law enforcement should have played in that incident and are addressing jurisdictional questions.
According to Helena Independent Record reporters Seaborn Larson and Holly Michels, "The Lewis and Clark County sheriff raised questions (on October 20) about whether State Attorney General Austin Knudsen overstepped his Department of Justice's jurisdiction when dispatching a Montana Highway Patrol trooper to St. Peter's Health in Helena last week. The question of jurisdiction stems from an incident in which the hospital said its doctors were threatened and harassed by three public officials over the care of a COVID-19 patient who had requested ivermectin, a drug not approved for treatment of the virus."
Larson and Michels continue, "Knudsen's office, after hearing from the patient's family, sent a trooper to the hospital to take statements, and Knudsen later called hospital leaders."
On October 20, according to the journalists, Knudsen's office said it has the power to use its Medicaid Fraud Control Unit to investigate "patient abuse or patient neglect."
"The office has also defended the attorney general's actions and has disputed the hospital's description of events," Larson and Michels note. "In an interview Wednesday, Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said he does not believe Montana Highway Patrol had the jurisdiction to send the trooper to St. Peter's Health to investigate the dispute."
Dutton told the Independent Record that he is "hoping to visit with" Knudsen to discuss "jurisdictional issues."
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