SOUTH BEND, Ind. — The St. Joseph County Democrat Party’s new Vice Chair, Doctor Don Westerhausen, went on an angry tirade against multiple women at a Board of Health meeting earlier this month. A three time failed political candidate himself, Dr. Westerhausen has a well documented temper that allegedly lost him his job at Elkhart General hospital several years ago.
In his speech during public comment at the April 19th meeting, Westerhausen first went off on the newest Board of Health member, Jill VanBruaene, by questioning her credentials and dismissing her as a professional working woman. While VanBrauene is a relator by trade, state law allows and promotes two Board of Health members to be outside of the healthcare profession in order to represent the average citizen in Board of Health decisions. During his comments, Westerhausen ignores the state statute (and the purpose behind it) in order to attempt to humiliate and bully VanBruaene out of the appointed position.
“I have several questions about her appointment.” Westerhausen stated in a dismissive manner about the highly regarded female citizen before lying about her appointment. “A realtor is not listed as a quote ‘qualified person to serve the remainder of the unexpired term.'”
Westerhausen then went off on another female in his angry tirade, claiming County Councilwoman Amy Drake was somehow responsible for VanBruaene’s appointment to the board, even though appointments are made by the Board of County Commissioners.
“My only conclusion is that her appointment is a coordinated effort to eviscerate the Board of Health by (Councilwoman) Amy Drake and her supporters.” Westerhausen falsely stated, while providing no evidence for his claims. “I feel like Ms. Drake is having the Board of Health members do her dirty work as she tries to dismantle county government.”
At the end of his speech, Westerhausen made a strange comment, claiming “complicit bias and equity” are not political terms.
HISTORY OF UNCHECKED AGGRESSION
REAL News Michiana has learned through multiple sources that Dr. Don Westerhausen has a well-known temper that led to multiple disciplinary actions as a medical professional as outlined in our investigation published in October of 2022. Some reports claim his temper was so bad, he left his job at Elkhart General because the alternative was losing admitting privileges at the hospital.
“It was not a unique experience to get yelled at by Don Westerhausen.” One source, who will not be named out of fear of retaliation, said.
That source claimed Westerhausen was forced to go to corrective counseling because of his temper and aggression toward hospital staff, mainly female nurses.
After counseling, Westerhausen would typically clean up his act a bit. But, according to sources who wish not to be named, he’d slowly “creep back into classic Don Westerhausen… mean and aggressive.”
It turns out, the brunt of his aggressiveness was toward young, female nurses who were just starting their careers.
“He didn’t hesitate to take advantage of that lack of experience. He didn’t waste any time exploiting that.” A source said. “The whole ER would see. He would make a scene in the ER or hallway… People were afraid of him.”
Sources also tell RNM, Westerhausen’s last outburst was about to lead to him losing admitting privileges or a suspension. Instead of facing that punishment, he abruptly packed up and resigned, leaving prior to the 2020 election cycle because he didn’t want it to affect his political prospects.
NOTE*** Westerhausen ran as a Democrat for the District 5 seat of the Indiana House of Representatives in 2020, but lost to Republican Dale Devon. He also ran for County Commissioner in 2022, but was blown out in what was expected to be a close race against Republican Carl Baxmeyer.
“His entire career was in and out of disciplinary action.” A source said. “He is a very talented cardiologist. They’re hard to find. (That’s why he wasn’t let go years earlier)”
Westerhausen was last practicing medicine in Kokomo, according to records obtained by REAL News Michiana.
TREATMENT OF PATIENTS
Public reviews made online seem to echo the claims made by Westerhausen’s former colleagues and subordinates.
“I only had a brief interaction with Dr. Westerhausen (thank goodness). He had no bedside manor (sic) whatsoever. By far the rudest physician I have ever talked to especially considering the circumstances. I was in extreme distress. He made me feel like I was an inconvenience for seeking help. If you feel like your patient is an inconvenience, maybe you should consider another career.” A review on Healthgrades.com from September 14, 2018, states.
“My mom was to have fluids taken off her lungs and have draining ports installed. Dr. W talked my mom into signing a DNR paper but my mom didn’t want to be on life support; she wanted other efforts made. When the nurse called to get the order in, he yelled at the nurse, then yelled at me because he didn’t feel that was the right thing for my mom to do, even though it was her wish. He dropped my mom as a patient because he didn’t get his way. Now she can’t have any NorthCentral Card Group doc.” Another reviewer from 2016 stated.
“Run as fast as you can from this doctor. He is the most heartless, which I find ironic, person I have met. He will talk down to you and become irritated by your questions. I will be telling everyone that I know about how much pain he has caused my family in a time when caring words and explanations would go a long way in helping us except (sic) the Inevitable. Beacon you are better then (sic) this doctor!” Another patient wrote in 2016.
“Difficult to imagine less compassion or willingness to listen.” A different patient wrote in 2016.
“The one star reviews say what was my experience.” Another reviewer wrote in May of this 2022.
REAL News Michiana reached out to Westerhausen for comment regarding the allegations about his behavior and temper. We also requested he release his records and notes from his alleged mandatory counseling. Months later and Westerhausen has never responded.
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