Chalet staff learned of the threat from a nearby medical center and were later told that the owners of the hospital were aware of the threat but did not call the police or staff.
GALESBURG, Ill. – Hours before Galesburg Cottage Hospital was due to close, staff and patients were evacuated and police were called to a bomb threat. Now police reports show the threat was not “credible”.
At 3:17 p.m. on Saturday January 8, Galesburg police were dispatched to the hospital to respond to a call about a bomb threat. When they arrived, the police discovered that it was a doctor who had alerted the police.
She told police she was alarmed after a phone call came in to Cottage from the Royal Oaks Medical Center in Kewanee.
‘Royal Oaks staff were aware that Cottage was the subject of a bomb threat and were prepared to accept their last patient,’ the police report read.
The doctor had heard nothing of such a threat and told officers that she had alerted her management, who assured her that Dr. Sanjay Sharma, owner and CEO of the hospital, knew about it and would call the police.
Officers said Dr. Sharma never called.
RELATED: Cottage Hospital temporarily closes, patients evacuated, more staff laid off
Eventually, the hospital house supervisor arrived and said she was waiting for the order to evacuate the facility, even though she hadn’t been directly told there was a threat, but at the place, all the information came from the phone call from Royal Oaks.
It was then that a hospital supervisor arrived and revealed that the Sharma family had been threatened with death by a former member of staff, but admitted that “there was no credible source indicating that there had been a bomb threat,” according to the report.
Senior management was allegedly monitoring the situation while the Sharmas were out of state.
This same supervisor told the police that there was no credible threat, but that there had been vandalism. A whiteboard at the hospital had been spray painted with the words “F*** the Sharmas”. Also, the day before, Dr. Sharma’s nameplate had been removed from his desk the day before and stuck on the doors of the morgue and someone had written “Liars, Shame on Sharmas” on the windows of the Cottage.
Officers conducted a sweep of the hospital but found no evidence of a bomb. Eventually the police learned that Dr Sharma’s wife, Priyam Sharma, was on the phone, admitting there had never been a bomb threat, only a threat to her and her family. The police then left the scene.
But the original agent spoke to Priyam on the phone, when she talked about a phone call she received the night before, January 7. She told officers that an ex-employee, whom she identified, shouted into the phone, “If if you ever come here, you’ll be taken,” during a 12-second phone call.
RELATED: ‘They dumped us’: Cottage Hospital surgeons fired, staff afraid to shut down
Then she admitted there had been “trouble” with fired hospital workers.
“Many workers were upset when they were laid off during the downsizing,” the report said, while recounting Priyam’s discussion with the officer. She said she was aware of Sharma’s “hate parties” and wanted to press charges against those responsible for the threats.
Police eventually contacted three former employees, all of whom had lost their jobs at Cottage and were out drinking together when the call came in. All three have independently maintained that the call was mostly laughter and name-calling, but not threatening.
One employee said that when Priyam picked up they shouted, “I love you,” while another employee shouted, “No, that’s not her, that’s a ****!” This same former staffer told police it was “more laughter” than anything, and that everything Priyam said was “a lie”.
The other two employees corroborated the first statement that no threats were made against the Sharmas.
Now the hospital remains closed and the service remains suspended. The Sharmas did not respond to repeated requests for comment and it is unclear when or if Cottage will ever reopen.
In the weeks leading up to the shutdown, entire teams of staff were unexpectedly laid off and patients were told to seek care elsewhere. But many patients and former staff say the administration is not cooperating with the transfer of medical records, and many former employees are still reporting missing paychecks.