A Hancock County woman has sued a Bangor hospital alleging that the grandmother of her son, an employee of Northern Light Eastern Maine Medical Center, and others illegally accessed her medical files to aid in a custody fight over the now 1-year-old boy.
In addition to the health care facility, Saylor DesJardin of Franklin sued Leslie Wirchak and Connor Wirchak, the father of her son, both of Orrington and five other EMMC employees listed only as John Does, who also allegedly accessed DesJardin’s records without permission.
Federal law prohibits people who are not health care providers from accessing patients’ medical records without permission.
DesJardin filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Penobscot County Superior Court alleging that the Wirchaks, the hospital and its employees invaded her privacy, intentionally inflicted emotional distress on her and were negligent in accessing her records 16 times between Oct. 12, 2021, and June 2, 2022. She is seeking unspecified damages for emotional distress, anxiety and embarrassment.
Leslie Wirchak has been employed by EMMC in its billing and insurance department for several years, according to the complaint. Connor Wirchak went to work for the hospital in December 2021 but the complaint does not say what his job is.
Suzanne Spruce, spokesperson for Northern Light Health, declined to comment on the lawsuit because the hospital has not yet been served with the complaint.
DesJardin and Connor Wirchak were in a romantic relationship from January 2020 to August 2021. They lived together in Kentucky from May to August 2021 where he was stationed in the military, the complaint said. She moved back to Maine that August and he returned the following November about a month after DesJardin learned she was pregnant and told the Wirchaks that she was expecting.
DesJardin received an anonymous tip that her medical records had been accessed without her permission on Nov. 16, 2021, according to the complaint. She informed the hospital, which allegedly launched an investigation into the breach.
DesJardin’s medical information was accessed at least three more times by John Does after that without her permission, the complaint said.
In July 2022, DesJardin received a second anonymous tip that her medical records had been accessed again.
On April 3, Connor Wirchak filed for divorce in Bangor District Court, even though he and DesJardin never married, and sought a custody agreement, the complaint said. DesJardin claims the family has had no contact with the boy since his birth, but believes that information in her medical records might be used to support his bid for custody.
DesJardin’s attorney, Andrew Stebbins of Cincinnati, said that she had no other option but to file the lawsuit.
“We believe the allegations in the complaint speak for themselves. Our client reached out to us when she had nowhere else to go to address this situation,” he said Tuesday. “We intend to pursue our claims to the fullest extent possible to provide our client the relief she deserves.”