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BURGAW, NC (WWAY) — The Pender County Health Department and Board of Health are in the midst of turbulent times. They can’t find a permanent health director. Many of the board members have resigned in protest over personality conflicts. And now we’re finding out just how dysfunctional the department has been the last 18 months.

We obtained the personnel file of Shirley Steele. She was the Nursing Supervisor there last year, until she was reassigned to Bioterrorism and Natural Disasters while being written up and suspended.

Last July, a dental student accidentally stuck herself with a needle while providing care to a patient. According to the student, and Doctor Michelle Holmes who was the Health Department Dentist, Nursing Supervisor Shirley Steele didn’t try to find out anything about the student and suggested the student go to the emergency room for a Rapid HIV Test.

Holmes says Steele acted as if, “she did not want to be bothered” and “had no interest in helping in any fashion.”

Holmes says the ER told her to draw the blood at the health department but then claims Steele wouldn’t let the lab tech carry out the order.

Holmes then states that she had to ask three people what the protocol was for what they call a sharps incident. Finally the lab tech located it and discovered going to the ER was not part of the protocol.

Jack Griffith was the Health Director at the time. He suspended Steele for five days without pay after what he called her “troublesome” actions. On the same day, Griffith informed Steele she would be reassigned from Nursing Supervisor to Bioterrorism and Natural Disasters. Griffith told her the move was lateral and “based solely on the specific needs within the health department.”

Steele appealed the suspension, claiming she did follow protocol, but Griffith denied her appeal and stated that she, “showed no ability or desire to lead or in fact even help.”

After her suspension, Steele filed a petition with the state against Griffith, stating, “I am a whistle blower. The Health Director gave me a five day suspension without pay for an incident in which I followed policy.”

Before the sharps incident, Steele claimed there was drug abuse inside the department, but an investigation proved there was no evidence of any abuse.

Last November, the North Carolina Board of Nursing also sent Steele a letter of concern because she failed to adequately supervise one of her staff. The board did not formally discipline her because they did not catch her mistake until later. Steele took this as a “favorable outcome,” but then Interim Director Wayne Raynor wrote back, saying Steele “failed to grasp the gravity of the board’s concerns.”

We tried contacting Steele, the Pender County Health Department Interim Director and members of the Board of Health, but they either didn’t return the call or didn’t want to discuss personnel matters.

Paperwork in Steele’s file also recommends she stay employed until a new permanent health director is hired. That position is still open.

Pender County Health Documents

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10 Comments on "ONLY ON 3: Leaked personnel file shows dysfunction inside Pender Co. Health Dept."

2015 years 10 months ago

I cant imagine retaining this type of employee in any capacity, let alone Bio-terrorism. Do you really think that an employee who knows she is going to be replaced is actually going to perform in an acceptable manner? I wouldnt even associate myself with the Pender Health Dept. at this rate out of fear of what could happen.

2015 years 10 months ago

It is about time the county tell the public the truth. What took so long? This is what transparensy is about.

2015 years 10 months ago

After a year you guys are just now figuring this out? You were repeatedly notified of these facts, but no press outlet wanted to investigate and report the truth. Steele is indeed a danger to the citizens of Pender County as you can now see. A lot of people were hurt, had their reputations destroyed, and careers were ended, because of this woman and her lies in the press. Due to the fact that the press would not report in a fair and balanced manner, these people will be forever affected. Due to the fact that the commissioners could not see past their own agendas of wanting to move the health director out and Shirley Steele in, the reputations of these people will forever be scarred. So Shirley, George, and David we hope you are happy for purposefully and maliciously destroying anyone that got in your way.

Kudos, high fives, and fist bumps to whoever had the cojones to finally educate the public on the truth. Believe it or not, the rumor is that the Chairman of the Pender Commissioners, George Brown, wants to create a nursing director position for Steele! And yes, he is very well aware of the facts in these papers.

Corruption is rampant in the Board of Pender County Commissioners and at some point someone needs to investigate it. This is a prime example of the power of these men to cover up the truth for reasons of furthering their own agenda. And to think, these men are pushing hard for the bill to pass that will allow the commissioners to run the Health Department and Social Services. Can you imagine, the Pender County Commissioners running these departments? In the event of a natural disaster or an epidemic outbreak, the commissioners, with absolutely NO TRAINING in these situations, making decisions effecting the public health and safety of the citizens? Pender County will be in serious trouble if these men take control over these departments!

WWAY, thank you for finally posting the truth. It took awhile, but you came through! Kudos and fist bumps to you, too!

2015 years 10 months ago

What about the positions Dr. Jack filled with the others who were suppose to follow him to the end? Animal Control Supervisor/ son of assistant county manager, now former. This was a promotion made out of promises. Look at the amount of wasted tax dollars spent to pay this young man who continues to shove his job off on others who work with him. According to UNC school of government he makes in excess of $38,000 yearly and he was started out at way more than the veteran Animal Control Officer of 20 years makes. He had never worked with an animal in his short life before he was given this. But as we have heard his daddy was going to do some favors. Paid considerable more than the former Animal Control Supervisor who had more than 20 years experience in the military. Wake up Pender County. There are unqualified people being given high authority because of who they are or who their daddy is.

Lets hope Carson Smith will not be lost in who is your daddy!

2015 years 10 months ago

I think that you need to check the salaries in other counties – most of the officers in Brunswick have degrees. I know that the AC supervisor is the only AC employee that has a degree. Pender’s AC is made up of a secretary, landfill worker and several deputies. I am not sure they are very qualified – maybe we need only hire educated officers for now and clean house like the health department is doing. You could not pay me $100,000 to put up with those crazy employees that word as officers out there! I think that Smith will not see AC as a humane society and have officers trying to adopt out animals – instead get them out in the field – doing the job they need to be doing for my tax dollar!

2015 years 10 months ago

Darlene, your whining is very tiresome. You had the opportunity to take this job when it was awarded to Mr. Throneburg and you declined while very proudly marching around telling everyone that you did not want it. He is indeed qualified for this job, and he took it when no one else more qualified wanted it. Rather than always trying to tear him down, why don’t you act like a normal human being and work as a team in a job that is hard enough without you making it even more difficult. It is indeed time for you to grow up.

2015 years 10 months ago

Speaking of how much the Supervisor makes, you do quite well yourself, Darlene. Not only with your salary but the fact that you and your husband use the animal control truck for personal transportation even though your position is not an on-call position. So, my friend you are wasting MY tax dollars by having a personal vehicle provided to you by this county that you and your husband use around the clock. You do not have to buy gas, or pay repair bills, or pay vehicle maintenance like the rest of us, because our tax dollars are doing that for you!

So yes, let’s do hope Carson Smith will not be lost in this whole mess that you have created and continue to feed on a regular basis.

2015 years 10 months ago

how the world turns.

Charges of drug useage — unfounded.

Charges the Pit Bull Nursing Supervisor did not respond properly to a Sharp Object incident — proven; she apparently did not know what to do or how to do it and thought a letter of Concern from the NC Board of Nursing was not a cause for concern.

And with the circus going on in Pender County, they wonder why no competent Health Director has stepped forward.

Could Dr. Jack have done a better job? Most likely; if he was not so distracted by all of the disloyal personnel.

Wish he was back now?

No Lies
2015 years 10 months ago

I hope this news is an indication that more people are FINALLY waking up as to WHO the ROOT CAUSE of the whole MESS Pender County is experiencing – SHIRLEY STEELE! But why do some harbor a suspicion that Shirley herself leaked the information in a perverse attempt to gain sympathy for her cause and as an excuse to come out with that ill disguised Self Propaganda Statement issued June 21,2011. Such Desparation to sit on a chair that she doesn’t fit!! But,it seems to boomerang, as this news nevertheless EXPOSES,even if it is only a fraction, of how Destructive and Delusional Shirley Steele can be.

Real Buzz
2015 years 10 months ago

So the lynching of the Animal Control Supervisor hasn’t relented. Don’t worry (mis)Information’s comment does not fool everybody. Many know the REAL Story which has already been discussed to death publicly in the past …but obviously not to the satisfaction of Shirley Steele and her people who sound very vindictive! But like Teflon, none of their malicious charges can really stick!


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