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PeaceHealth now says Doctor convicted of Animal Neglect placed on leave. State officials, health plans decline comment

Eugene, Ore – A Oregon doctor who was recently convicted of neglected her dogs, and who is facing further allegations of neglect surrounding nearly a dozen horses she surrendered as part of her plea deal, has now apparently been placed on leave– a spokesperson for PeaceHealth recently confirmed.

Dr. Christy Horton, who works for Peace Harbor Medical Center in Florence, Oregon, was convicted of animal neglect earlier this month in Eugene Municipal Court, a story that NW Horse Report originally broke and has since been reported on by numerous other media outlets.

PeaceHealth has continued to state that they do not comment on their staff’s “personal legal matters.”, but the statement that Horton was now on leave was a departure from their earlier statements which did not indicate any status change to Horton’s employment.

NW Horse Report was also the first to report and uncover through tips that Horton had a warrant for her arrest for over a decade in relation to charges for animal neglect she was facing from 2005 in Washington State. Horton appears to have promptly left Washington after the incident nearly 2 decades ago.

Oregon Health Plan officials also declined comment, despite the fact that Horton was listed as being a provider for several Coordinated Care Organizations (CCO’s) which operate the State’s Medicaid benefits under the Oregon Health Plan. One of the CCO’s covering Lane County is Pacific Source Community Solutions, who also declined to provide any further comment.

An official with Pacific Source responded to a request to provide comment last week saying, “PacificSource has no comment to offer at this time.” NW Horse Report was informed that Pacific Source would follow-up if that changes.

Due to significant public uproar and concern following the revelations of Horton’s conviction and growing allegations, NW Horse Report asked OHP if they were concerned about the allegations knowing that Horton is still actively providing services to patients on the Oregon Health Plan.

Despite the Oregon Health Plan having clear oversight over the care provided to OHP members, the agency appeared to deflect all inquiries to the Oregon Medical Board and PeaceHealth, “This is not an OHA issue, this is an issue for the Oregon Medical Board or Dr. Horton’s employer.” said Liz Gharst, Health Policy Communications Officer for the agency.

The Oregon Medical Board cited Oregon law saying they could not provide any comment on any possible investigation into Horton, as well as to release any information about possible complaints.

The lack of response from State officials did not appear to sit well with multiple citizens who have been following issues related to Horton, including some who have come to NW Horse Report following our original publication.

One of the major questions still outstanding is how Horton was able to gain employment as a medical doctor in Oregon– considering her past charges and active warrant that was only recalled in 2016 when prosecutors in Washington state cleared the case off their log.

A spokesperson for PeaceHealth said that the organization “stays current with state and federal guidance pertaining to required background checks, and the manner in which information from those background checks may be used in employment decisions. Our focus is always on the patients we serve, and once employed, all caregivers are held to high standards for delivering safe, high-quality care.”

An official with the Oregon Medical Board, Gretchen Kingham, said that medical doctors in Oregon, “must provide fingerprints for a state and federal criminal history record check.”

“All fingerprints are processed through the Oregon State Police (OSP) and the FBI. A history of criminal activity will be reviewed and may result in the denial of an application. You can find detailed information on the OMB’s Fingerprint Requirements webpage.” said Kingham.

The answers only further deepened the question of how Horton was able to gain employment at PeaceHealth.

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