BRENTWOOD — A former drug and alcohol substance abuse clinician who was fired from Hampstead Hospital claims in a new lawsuit that he was let go because he reported concerns about registered sex offenders allegedly working at the psychiatric facility with unsupervised access to patients, including children.
Francis D. Smith’s suit accuses the hospital of wrongful termination and retaliation under the Whistleblower Act and alleges that the facility failed to address his concerns.
A representative from Hampstead Hospital did not immediately return a call seeking comment on Tuesday.
According to the suit filed on May 14 in Rockingham County Superior Court, Smith, a Kensington resident, was hired on Jan. 12, 2015, to provide substance abuse counseling services to patients, including children between the ages of 12 and 16.
The suit says Smith is a licensed alcohol and drug counselor who was hired, in part, to reduce the suicide rate among substance abuse patients.
“In the four months prior to Mr. Smith’s employment with Hampstead Hospital, several patients or former patients of Hampstead Hospital’s substance abuse treatment had committed suicide. During Mr. Smith’s employment at Hampstead Hospital, none of the substance abuse patients committed suicide,” the suit says.
The suit says Smith’s performance review records showed that he “met or exceeded expectations in every category.”
While he was employed at the facility at 218 East Road in Hampstead, the suit alleges, Smith learned that some of the subcontractors hired to perform landscaping work were registered sex offenders and that at least one was a tier III offender involving crimes against children.
“Moreover, Mr. Smith discovered that these registered sex offenders were being allowed to be unmonitored and unsupervised in the cafeteria of the hospital where they had access to and the ability to interact with patients at Hampstead Hospital, including, without limitation, vulnerable minors as young as six years old seeking developmental, psychiatric, or substance abuse treatment,” the suit says.
Smith’s suit alleges that on at least one occasion he saw a sex offender interacting with minor females in the cafeteria. He also claims he reported concerns about the sex offenders several times to the hospital and was told they would be addressed, but they were not, according to the suit.
The last time he reported his concerns was on July 21, 2017, and a few days later he was called to meet with the director of support services who manages the hospital’s subcontractors, the suit says.
“Mr. Smith informed Hampstead Hospital that his primary concern was the safety of the patients which was why he was making the complaints internally as opposed to reporting his concerns to the media. Two days later, on July 26, 2017, Mr. Smith was fired from his job at Hampstead Hospital,” the suit says.
Smith claims he was told in an exit interview that he was fired because he was “not a good fit” for the hospital and that the termination was related to his “inflexibility” and refusal to “let things go,” the suit says.
Smith’s Concord attorney, David Rayment, declined to comment beyond the allegations in the lawsuit.