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Please report the all the facts. Not just what you want to.

Jack Griffith wrote on Jun 23, 2011 7:10 PM:

" Topsail Beach Denizen:

Based on the referenced newspaper article one would likely agree that I am the “bad guy.“ However, that is not true and there are facts to the contrary that are simply irrefutable. Mrs. Steele did not have a policy (protocol) until three days after the “needle sick incident.” Further, I did not suspend Mrs. Steele for not following policy, nor did I laterally transfer her to another job for not following policy. I took these actions against Mrs. Steele for not doing all she could to take care of a patient, and her failure to support a medical specialist. I am on record telling the BOH and the staff of the health department to always care for the patient first, and tend to policy later. Dr. Michelle Holmes needed help for a patient in a potential HIV case and requested assistance from health department staff. After significant foot dragging by the staff, Dr. Holmes was referred to Pender Memorial Hospital by Mrs. Steele. The hospital refused to draw blood, and could not perform rapid HIV screening as Dr. Holmes requested. The hospital referred Dr. Holmes back to the health department laboratory. At Dr. Holmes request Mrs. Baker produced a health department policy that required the laboratory staff to support a physician or dentist (any competent health care provider) when they requested assistance for a patient. However, Mrs. Baker refused Dr. Holmes request based on Mrs. Steele’s recommendation. One can spin this event whichever way they choose, but facts are facts.
I was on medical leave when Dr Holmes notified me of the incident, and called me back to work if it was at all possible. I returned to the health department immediately after the incident. Dr Holmes and the dental student had prepared comprehensive reports of the incident which she made available to and the BOH. Dr. Holmes tape recorded the entire event because she did not trust Mrs. Steele or Mrs. Baker to be truthful. These are the facts: Dr. Holmes spoke with Mrs. Steele, Mrs. Baker and Mrs. Batson (the communicable disease nurse) and received no help after repeated requests.
The BOH met in emergency session to review the incident. At this meeting, also attended by Mr. Benton and Mr. Thurman. The BOH questioned Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Baker, and compared their testimony with the taped conversation. Based on Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Baker’s own testimony, and on the presentation by Dr. Holmes and the dental student, the BOH found that Mrs. Steele and Mrs. Baker were not forthcoming. By an almost unanimous vote (7) the BOH instructed me to take whatever action I felt to be necessary regarding Mrs. Steele (since I left the health department Mr. Brown has removed all the members of the BOH, save one, who voted to punish Mrs. Steele): This is an irrefutable fact. I also believe that both Mr. Benton and Mr. Thurman heard the recommendation of the BOH. Mr. Benton was quoted in the Topsail Voice as saying that Mrs. Steele was exonerated by the administrative law judge; Mr. Thurman was quoted as saying this was not a county complaint, but was against the health department, one or both would have been required to alert the interim director about the hearing.
I have worked more than 50 years in public health. I am the co-author of two college text books; I have published more than 30 “peer” reviewed scientific articles; and I am the recipient of the second highest award (Silver Medal) given by the US EPA for developing and managing scientific programs. I took the job in Pender County after I retired from EPA so that I could continue to do interesting and worthwhile programs in health care. In Pender County, I was responsible for bringing more than 5 million dollars in grant funding from private sources to the health department, creating two dental programs, securing a state of the art mobile dental clinic, constructing and renovating the dental clinic, renovating the medical clinics, and bringing board certified pediatric and adult internal medicine physicians to provide care to thousands of low-income folks in the county. I was also responsible for overseeing the 7th health department in NC to be certified, and the first health department to meet 100% of the accreditation criteria. In 14 years I never had a shortfall in the health department budget, and the county appropriation (30-35%) only increased due to county authorized pay adjustments and increases required by animal control and environmental health.
After appointments to graduate faculties in three major universities; 30 years in public health; and 14 years in Pender County, how does one seriously believe I would jeopardize my reputation by lying about this incident? Frankly Mr. Topsail Denizen, to disbelieve what I have told you, it would also be necessary for you to believe a majority of the BOH (7), the health director, the tape recording, and the presentation by Dr. Holmes were all lies. In more than 30 years in public health I have never experienced a more corrupt administration. This administration is more than willing to lie, cheat, create an atmosphere of anxiety, and force people to its will by threats and actual firings (witness the firings and resignations of BOH members orchestrated by Mr. Brown). For the most part, since my retirement I have attempted to let the problems with Mr. Brown, health department staff and BOH members find a solution to the many well publicized problems. However, your letter moved me to respond to the flood of lies brought by this administration and Mr. Brown. Sadly, the poor in Pender County will no longer have access to competent and experienced health care, and additional cost brought about by this shortage in care will only redound to the pocketbook of the Pender taxpayer.
Mr. Topsail Beach Denizen, this is important! Mr. Brown is attempting to remold the health department in an image that only he and his favored associates understand. Apparently Mr. Brown is basing his transformation on an extremely limited scope of knowledge and information from individuals who have their own agendas to fulfill. For example Mr. Brown believes that a nurse practitioner can provide the same medical services as a primary care physician, or board certified physician: he is either terribly misinformed or worse is deliberately misleading the public (frankly, some nurses find it difficult to accept orders from a physician). Mr. Brown has frequently complained that the dental and medical programs were breaking the county budget although this is simply not true: the county finance officer has told him this is not true, and you should look at the financial records from 1996 through 2009 (the last complete fiscal year I worked to have an informed opinion. All the medical and dental programs were self-supporting and actually provided limited financing to other poorly funded clinic programs. Mr. Topsail Denizen it is up to you and other Pender citizens to judge who is actually the “bad guy” and to make any necessary program corrections!

Jack Griffith, Ph.D "


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