- The Washington Times - Saturday, May 31, 2008

HANCOCK, Md. (AP) - Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, Maryland Republican, is investigating the firing of a popular doctor from a federally funded clinic that serves poor people in parts of Western Maryland, south-central Pennsylvania and West Virginia’s Eastern Panhandle, a Bartlett aide said.

Mr. Bartlett is “aware and concerned” about the impact of Dr. Matthew Hahn’s firing on patients, other medical professionals and the community, spokeswoman Lisa Wright told the Cumberland Times-News.

Dr. Hahn, an award-winning physician known for making occasional house calls, says he was fired April 30 as medical director of the Hancock-based Tri-State Community Health Center after he tried to bring workplace problems to light.

Health Center Executive Director Leslie Colbrese and Board of Directors Chairwoman Cordelia Carson declined yesterday to discuss the reasons for Dr. Hahn’s dismissal. Ms. Colbrese said in a prepared statement that recent newspaper articles about the dispute contained information that was “unsubstantiated and not fully accurate.” She would not elaborate.

The center has clinics in Hancock, Cumberland and McConnellsburg, Pa., and serves patients in Allegany and Washington counties; Franklin and Bedford counties, Pa.; and Morgan and Mineral counties, W.Va. Last year, it provided services to 19,404 people, Ms. Colbrese said.

Dr. Hahn’s firing after eight years with the center has drawn protests from some patients and members of the clinical staff. Dr. Wayne Spiggle, a physician from Keyser, W.Va., who works part-time at the center’s Cumberland office, said the clinical staff asked the board on Thursday to oust Ms. Colbrese and reinstate Dr. Hahn.

“Dr. Hahn is a wonderful physician and we’re convinced that any complaint they might have did not rise to the level of fair treatment by firing him,” Dr. Spiggle said yesterday.

Dr. Hahn said in a prepared statement given to the Times-News and the (Hagerstown) Herald-Mail May 23 that he was fired after trying to help a large number of Tri-State’s workers “bring significant workplace problems to light.”

“The Tri-State Board of Directors and administration have blatantly ignored these concerns,” Dr. Hahn wrote.

Dr. Hahn’s attorney, Lynne Bernabei of the District, told the Herald-Mail that the employees’ complaints about Ms. Colbrese and the center involved turnover, inefficiency, leadership and a lack of respect for the staff.

Ms. Bernabei said the workers brought their complaints to Dr. Hahn, hoping he would help. He tried to give the list to the board, but was directed to give it to Ms. Colbrese, Ms. Bernabei said. When Dr. Hahn gave the complaints to Ms. Colbrese, she fired him, Ms. Bernabei said.

Dr. Hahn filed a grievance with the board, which responded by giving him his final termination notice May 22, Ms. Bernabei said.

Dr. Hahn was named Maryland’s 2007 Outstanding Rural Health Practitioner by the Maryland Rural Health Summit. He was the 2006 Maryland Academy of Family Physicians’ Family Doctor of the Year. He was a finalist for 2008 Family Physician of the Year, a national award given by the American Academy of Family Physicians.

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