Valley Regional Hospital targeted over man’s COVID treatment

  • Claremont Police cruisers are parked outside of the entrance to Valley Regional Hospital in Claremont, N.H., on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021. The hospital secured its campus and limited patient traffic to the emergency room entrance only after they received information late Wednesday night that “concerned the administration,” Claremont Chief of Police Mark Chase said. (Valley News / Report For America - Alex Driehaus) Copyright Valley News. May not be reprinted or used online without permission. Send requests to permission@vnews.com. Valley News / Report For America — Alex Driehaus

Valley News Staff Writer
Published: 12/16/2021 9:53:27 PM
Modified: 12/16/2021 9:52:58 PM

CLAREMONT — Valley Regional Hospital this week boosted security after it received threatening telephone calls regarding a patient under its care, the Claremont hospital said in a news release Thursday.

The announcement came after Valley Regional became the target of a social media campaign when the family of a patient being treated there for COVID-19 called upon the hospital to respond to their demands for alternative treatment.

Describing the hospital as “currently in a status of heightened awareness and security,” Valley Regional said access to the facility has been restricted to a single entry and exit point.

“Valley Regional Hospital received telephonic threats regarding a patient in our care. The Claremont Police Department has been notified and police have been posted in the hospital,” the news release said. “Staff who routinely work remotely have been asked to continue to do so. We continue to work with the Claremont Police Department, and we are monitoring the situation closely.”

On Thursday afternoon a Claremont police cruiser was parked outside the emergency room entrance — now the sole designated entry —and would be alternating with a Sullivan County Sheriff’s Department deputy, said Claremont Police Chief Mark Chase, who was also at the hospital in his SUV.

“They received information from an outside-the-area source that concerned the administrators that they wanted to place extra security around the campus,” Chase said. He declined to comment about the specifics that prompted the action.

Last week, a group calling itself The Truth Seeker that distributes content on the Telegram message app, YouTube and other social media platforms, posted a nearly one-hour video conference call online among four participants saying that they received a chat message from a Claremont woman whose husband is being treated for COVID-19 at the local hospital. In the discussion, they said the woman told them hospital staff were not responding to her assertion of medical power of attorney regarding her husband’s treatment.

On the video conference call, which as of Thursday had nearly 51,000 views on YouTube alone, one of the organizers of the call identified the woman, her husband, their hometown of Claremont and Valley Regional Hospital.

Mike Penny, whose LinkedIn profile identifies him as a Clayton, N.C., internet marketing professional, said that the woman reached out via the live chat platform on The Truth Seeker on Dec. 6.

Truth Seeker posts videos hosted by Penny that touch on topics such as QAnon and support of President Donald Trump and delve into various conspiracy theories, some involving numerology or the Kennedy family.

“She was in distress,” Penny said of the woman. “Her husband had been admitted to the hospital and she was looking for some help because in her words, ‘I think he’s dying if I don’t get him some different help.’ ”

Specifically, according to Penny, the woman did not want remdesivir, an antiviral drug being used to treat some patients hospitalized with COVID-19, administered to her husband, and wanted other drugs instead.

During the call, participants shared screen images of names and contact information for administrators and medical staff at Valley Regional, urging viewers to call the hospital to voice their concern that the couple’s wishes are not being addressed and to acknowledge her medical power of attorney.

Truth Seeker’s broadcast of the video conference call elicited hundreds of comments from viewers, many of them disparaging of conventional protocols for treating COVID-19 and echoing support for the Claremont couple.

Its publication of the contact information of Valley Regional medical professionals triggered a flood of calls, Al Putnam, a participant on the call, told the Valley News.

“I would say it was significant to the point that (the hospital) thought it was a threat,” said Putnam from his home in Cherryville, N.C. “But there was no threat.”

State Rep. Walter Stapleton, R-Claremont, also told the Valley News he had been contacted by a member of the Truth Seeker group about the matter.

At her home in Claremont on Thursday, the woman, Janet Chamberlain, acknowledged she had reached out to The Truth Seeker and said “I’m grateful to them,” but declined to discuss her husband, who has been hospitalized since Dec. 4. She said she did not want to say “anything negative” about the hospital.

“My concern is for my husband’s well-being. That is it,” she said sitting in a living room decorated for Christmas.

Contact John Lippman at jlippman@vnews.com.




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