Sexual abuse lawsuits hurt hospital's credit, delay construction projects

For any hospital accused of insufficiently rigorous privileging and credentialing, Beebe Medical Center in Lewes, Del., offers an evolving cautionary tale. If the public perception is that your hospital inadequately evaluated medical staff, the bad PR could hurt, not only your image, but also your credit and ability to move ahead on capital projects.

The 210-bed, not-for-profit community hospital has become connected with sexual abuse lawsuits in the case of Earl Bradley. At one time, Bradley, who is accused of sexually assaulting more than 100 patients at his practice, served as chief of pediatrics at the hospital. Alleged victims in the civil suits say that Beebe knew or should have known about Bradley's alleged behavior and failed to report it to officials, according to WBOC16.

The case is delaying millions of dollars' worth of capital projects at Beebe. Credit agencies have cut the hospital's credit rating, President and CEO Jeffrey Fried said, forcing it to take a more muted approach to any sort of big spending. A $3 million imaging center is on hold, as is a $3 million parking facility for the main campus.

Other projects will still be able to move ahead without loans. The hospital will raise funds to cover the remainder of a renovation and expansion of the Beebe School of Nursing, which has already received about $1 million in government funding. The Beebe Medical Foundation will cover a second $5 million linear accelerator for Beebe's Tunnell Cancer Center.

To learn more:
- read WBOC16's account

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