The Department of Public Health directed McLean Hospital yesterday to investigate whether its former president, Dr. Jack M. Gorman, sexually abused any patients at the hospital, one day after his medical license was indefinitely suspended in New York for "inappropriate sexual contact" with an unidentified patient.
Gorman resigned abruptly from the Harvard-affiliated hospital in May 2006 for what the hospital said were "personal and medical reasons." Gorman later admitted to New York medical regulators that he had been having an improper relationship with a patient that precipitated a personal crisis, culminating in a suicide attempt.
The Board for Professional Medical Conduct in New York has not revealed where the sexual contact with the patient occurred; an official would say only that it happened on multiple occasions. However, Gorman practiced primarily in New York City, and worked as a psychiatrist at McLean for only about four months before he quit.
"We are contacting McLean Hospital and asking them to conduct an investigation and report back to us," said Donna Rheaume, spokeswoman for the Department of Public Health. "Our concern is the health and safety of the patients at the facilities we are licensing."
The agency learned of Gorman's sexual misconduct when it was reported in the Globe yesterday, and officials want to ensure that any victims are receiving proper care, Rheaume said.
Yesterday, officials at Partners HealthCare, the parent organization of McLean, as well as hospital board members declined to say what they knew about Gorman's problems when he resigned. He initially took a medical leave in mid-April after a suicide attempt, but McLean officials were saying publicly that they expected him to return to his job only two days before he quit.
"The hope is really to put this behind us," said Partners spokeswoman Petra Langer, pointing out that McLean has named a new president, Scott L. Rauch. She said she had not heard about the state's request for an investigation into Gorman's conduct while he was at McLean.
Word that Gorman had admitted to sexual misconduct came as a shock to many at McLean, including some who worked directly for him. One Partners official, who asked not to be named because of the sensitivity of the case, said people felt betrayed by Gorman's misconduct and were upset that it caused so much upheaval in leadership of the hospital.
An associate of Gorman who asked not to be named said that the doctor concealed his misconduct from the McLean board of directors and other officials.
"He didn't want to embarrass one of the greatest teaching hospitals in the country," the associate said.
Instead, Gorman returned to New York and reported the misconduct to regulators there.
Scott Allen can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.