Three more officials have resigned from Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital in St. Petersburg, Fla., following a yearlong investigation by the Tampa Bay Times, according to a statement from Johns Hopkins Medicine on Wednesday.
The officials are Dr. Brigitta Mueller, chief patient safety officer and vice president of medical affairs; Sylvia Ameen, vice president of marketing, communications and culture/physician engagement; and Dr. Gerhard Ziemer, director of the Heart Institute and chief of cardiovascular surgery. Hopkins said in a statement that Ziemer, appointed in August, is “not responsible for the current state of the program” but that “a fresh start is needed to ensure success for the program.”
Last month, three other high-ranking officials resigned: CEO Dr. Jonathan Ellen, Vice President Jackie Crain and deputy director Dr. Jeffrey Jacobs. Dr. Paul Colombani stepped down as chair of the department of surgery but will "continue in a clinical capacity."
The Heart Institute at All Children’s was dedicated to children with heart defects and had been working in recent years to grow in size and prestige, according to the hospital, which announced in 2010 that it would integrate into the Johns Hopkins Health System.
But through extensive interviews with current and former employees and family members of those treated there and a decade’s worth of billing records, the newspaper probe, published in December, identified many instances of treatment gone horribly wrong.
Some children, even ones undergoing less-complex procedures, suffered complications such as infections that regulators now consider preventable or more unusual problems such as needles lost inside infants, bursting sutures and failing patches for holes in tiny hearts. The hospital’s mortality rate for heart surgery patients tripled from 2015 to 2017, becoming the highest for such units in Florida.
On Wednesday, Hopkins also announced that a team of experts will assess the Heart Institute from a clinical perspective with the goal of reopening it safely.
A spokeswoman for Johns Hopkins Medicine declined to comment beyond the statement.