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Criticized Health Director fires back

READ MORE: Criticized Health Director fires back

PENDER COUNTY, NC (WWAY) -- Much of the 13 pages of Pender County Health Director Jack Griffith's response was concealed to protect personnel. In it he calls the independent review of the Pender County Health Department biased and unsubstantiated.

Monday, Wanda Sandele presented the findings from her independent review of the health department to the Board of Health. Sandele found the health department provided good public service but is experiencing difficult times because the administration did not properly handle conflict within the department.

"The only thing that I'm interested in is protecting my primary care programs and my dental program and the people who are really doing this kind of work," said Griffith.

In a response to the report Griffith said, "Ms. Sandele makes some critical judgments... that are not supported by the facts."

Griffith criticizes Sandele for interviewing only 15 employees and says "this obvious exclusion of any staff person with a perspective not supported by the complaining group leads to the inescapable conclusion that the report was very biased[...]"

Griffith goes on to say that the assessment has turned into a "witch hunt," but after being interviewed by the board Monday night, Griffith did not share the same critiques.

"There's a lot of stuff going on and they've got some valid points," he said.

In the report, Sandele made several recommendations including a "drastic change" in the administration. But Griffith says in light of the recent events there is no longer a "chain of command" within the department.

The Pender County Health Department will face two more reviews. The first will be conducted by a conflict resolution consultant from the North Carolina School of Governments. The seconded will be a more in depth study by the Gilliings School of Global Health at UNC Chapel Hill. Both reviews are expected to be finished within the next week.

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The Kingdom's Fool

George Brown is quickly losing in his seat on the Kingdom throne and is becoming the Jester of Pender County. He certainly made a fool out of himself Monday night at the Pender County Budget meeting.

George Brown showed his true colors in full light. It seems that since Dr. Jack Griffith, Director the Pender County Health Department, has decided to stand his ground and let the County know that he will not leave on his own will, Mr. Brown has decided to made his next move in this endless game of chess. He wants to fire all the Medical Doctors.

Mr. Brown put on a public display by announcing his plans to get rid of the five Doctors providing needed health services to the under privileged using the Pender County Health Department. Mr. Brown’s rant was borderline rage as he attempted to convince the others in attendance that the County and the taxpayers were wasting a million dollars a year on these Doctors when the same services could be provided by a single nurse and assistant.

Where does Mr. Brown find such basis to his statement, “it doesn’t matter if it’s self supporting or if it’s paid by grants, it still taxpayer’s money”. George, can you please go over that middle part again? It was very obvious Monday night that you don’t get it even as several attempts during the meeting were made to explain it to you.

That’s correct George; it’s not coming out of the county budget. The Doctors are self-supported through insurance moneys and the State, not by Pender County taxpayers as you suggested. The Doctors are a cash positive business at the Health Department. You need to be better informed when you speak about the Pender County budget in a public forum. More than 95% of the time, the Doctors make money for the County.

Then George continued, “They are being paid a million dollars”! And continue again, “A nurse and an assistant can do what they do.”! The fool continues with his rage again, “the Doctors are being paid a million dollars and a nurse can do what these Doctors are doing for less”!

So George, who is this nurse you speak of? Would it happen to be Nurse Shirley Steele? Is this the same nurse that you have been in cahoots with since day one when you said she anonymously came to you with accusations against Dr. Jack Griffith and his Health Department?

What is about Ms. Steele that causes you to get all riled up that you would make a idiot of yourself. Why do you continue to support her capabilities? Is she an Internist? Is she a pediatrician? Is she a Dentist? Can she help a patient with anything other than STDs? What is it about this nurse that has turned you into the Pender County joke?

George, what happened to the drug use in the Health Department accusation? Yes, as you well know, it was shot down George. Shirley Steele denied the charge when interviewed by the members of the Board of Health. The sad part is Roberta Bost, Trey Thurmand, Rick Benton and Jimmy Tate who have continued to follow your lead decided not to release the information to the local press, stating that Ms. Steele lied. This is defiantly considered a cover up by government officials.

What Ms. Steele ended up changing her story to was “I thought I smelled alcohol on an employee’s breath one day a couple of years ago”. Fact! FRONT PAGE NEWS; Massive drug abusive at the Pender County Health Department! LIVE AT 5; Interviews with employee speaking up on drug use at the Pender County Health Department!

To this day, the local press still considers the proud moment of the hidden interviews as captured factual truth which you knew they would. I guess none of this was designed to protect the innocent, only to protect the guilty.

George, what happened to the Medicaid fraud and the HIPAA violations you accused Dr Jack Griffith and the Health Department of? Was it not later discovered there was never any basis for those accusations, but you along with your team of Roberta Bost, Trey Thurman and Rick Benton have again never presented a public release stating otherwise. You have again denied the Pender County citizens the truth.

George, you’ve also created an environment of false accusations of discrimination in the county. Black on Hispanic, Black on Black, White on Black, Black on White and White on Hispanic. Have I missed any? Oh yes, Hispanic on White. It’s like walking into an ice cream store and having to choose a flavor. Take your pick and think I’ll make it a mixed double on that cone. These are all accusations with no basis. Oh yes, then was the one seventy something year old employee screaming age discrimination when someone referred to her as elderly. What is it with all this?

Commissioner Brown, what is your real purpose with this continued battle with the Health Department? Is it to rid Pender County of health care for the poor, the immigrants and anyone in need? Is this not considered a form of racism Commissioner Brown? Where would you rather have the money in the Budget to go? Or is it not about the Budget? Is it to make Ms Steele head of the Health Department? So then the money can go elsewhere. Where is that George?

I was happy to see Commissioner Blanchard step up to the plate at the meeting and put Commissioner Brown in his place. I’m proud of you Mr. Blanchard. You are a real man. Much more than Commissioners, Williams and Rivenbark whom have decided to sit and cower on the sidelines from the beginning of these events. Of course, I will also include George’s other partner in crime on this list, Commissioner Jimmy Tate. His weakness as with the others, is an embarrassment to the human race.

The game is up George Brown. You’ve been had! You are a disappointment to Pender County.

You need to step down as a Commissioner and take Ms. Steele with you when you leave!

Btw, before you go, would you happen to have Freddie Brown’s phone number?

Well Said

and to the point.

I'd like to know more about the million dollars alluded to by Mr. Brown. I'm certain Dr. Jack would as well.

His salary is a matter of public record; and it's sure a lot less than he is worth. When you talk about value added by someone, Dr Jack adds value to the Health Department every day.

Mr. Brown -- still no word on when the opening, on the Health Department, created by Mr. Tate's departure will be posted for applicants.

It's unfortunate I was in Raleigh this week; I would have been there.


Commissioner Brown. You were quoted some weeks ago that you felt the County should post certain Board of Healthy positions for application.

When is that going to happen?

And when is Commissioner Tate going to make a choice between Board of Health or County Commissioner?

Is he backing you because someone has pictures of him doing something he should not have done?

Time for change is past due.



Lies ?

The only one I see that is telling lies is the nurse making all these accusations and her little "Girl Gang".

These people really need to grow up and get a life. And who are the real employees that you speak of? Certainly not some one who doesn't practice etiquette and print a comment in all CAPS.

Shirley Steele is only interested in her best interests. Those who believe otherwise only believe her lies. You sound disgruntle Ms. E; I suggest that you just get over it and get on with your life.

New Pender Series

The Pender County Mob Boss.

David Chase, has done it again. The creator of the Sapranos which was the HBO hit series is bringing us a new show which is appropriately called the “Pender County Mob Boss”. No longer is Tony hanging out in New Jersey. He and his crew have moved to the South. The character names have been changed to reflect the “good old boy” personalities of the area. The new series now takes place right here in Pender County, NC. That’s right. No more Jersey accents. And if you are new to the area then brush up on your southern because it’s a wild ride.

The show is a modern day morality tale about the Pender County mob boss, Commissioner George Brown, as he deals with personal and professional issues in Pender County Government. Silvio Dante, Vito Spatafore, Artie Bucco and Adriana Le Cerva all have new character names. Some of these new characters are Trey Thurman, Rick Benton, Jason Leary and Reberta Bost. And yes the new character Commissioner Jimmy Tate does a tremendous job as he replaces Paulie “Walnuts” Gualtieri. The word is, for Jimmy it’s a definite trip to the podium to pick up an Emmy.

The main story line consists of George Brown’s quest to become the Pender County Mob Boss by any achievable means. His character has no remorse as he and his crew consistently knock off all of their opponents by the use of the most unimaginable means throughout every single show in this series.

Commissioner Jimmy “Walnuts” Tate’s character is definitely good for a laugh or two. But don’t let his sensitivity fool you. And don’t turn your back on him. His character certainly cannot be trusted and is definitely deadly. And when his arms start flapping as if he’s trying to fly, watch out! Such a great character Walnuts!

Two other characters, County Manager, Rick Benton and County Attorney, Trey Thurman play major roles in the series. The orders to knockoff someone is started at the top by the Mob Boss George Brown character. It’s the job of these two goons to follow through with all the hits. In one of the earlier shows, Mob Boss George Brown has them knocked off a County Planning Director and then in one of the later shows they knock off another. I just don’t understand what it is with Mob Boss George Brown and these County Planning Directors? But I guess the Mob Boss has his reasons.

It’s funny to watch the little Rick and fat Trey characters stand in the same room together. They play off each other very well and seem to be right on cue with their acting in their seedy underworld. I do see Rick Benton as a short lived character in the series. I’m sure Mob Boss George Brown will find reason and a means to knock him off as soon as Rick has done all George’s dirty work.

It becomes known later in the series that Mob Boss George Brown has his eyes on the Environmental Services Department in Pender County. That’s his goal and if he wins control of ESD then he is then Mob Boss King George. It is later established that Mob Boss George Brown has control of the local print and TV media. One of the scenes has Mob Boss George Brown and a local reporter sitting at a bar sipping a cold beer on a hot summer day. One of the patrons observes Jimmy “Walnuts” Tate walk in and join them then overhears a conversation as Mob Boss George Brown tells the reporter how to write his story. It’s a well written scene. And it was so believable as I watched this scene. The acting is very natural.

I would also suspect that the character County Attorney, Trey Thurman will end up disbarred and in a federal prison at some point before the series comes to an end. I’m sure he’ll try to rat out the Pender County Mob Boss for a lesser charge and sentence. Mob Boss George Brown would surely have someone like Jimmy “Walnuts” Tate attempt the hit and of course he ends up in prison as well. I think it is established in one of the shows that Mob Boss George Brown has something on “Walnuts” Tate and so “Walnuts” will do anything to protect this little secret. It would be hilarious if the writers decide to somehow get the Jimmy “Walnuts” Tate character and the Trey Thurman character somehow sentenced together in the same prison cell. Every show needs a little humor.

Reberta Bost, the BOH Chairperson has an interesting role play as a character. As a viewer, you really never know which side she stands with. She can be a gentle little kitty cat when looking for information to hang her opponent with. Then bang! I’ve seen a preview of one of the shows where she was taking someone down. She is crazy scary.

The first scene opens at the Pender County Health Department and introduces the members of that organization. The Director of the Health Department is played by Dr Jack Griffith. Dr Griffith portrays a wonderful man in his seventies who came to the Health Department after retiring from the Center for Disease Control and the EPA. He brought with him his knowledge and a willingness to care for the indigent and the misfortunate. The Dr also creates a shelter the abandoned animals. What a wonderful character. I only wish we had people like this in real life. Only in the movies!

It is reveled in the first show of the series, with the use of flashbacks that the Health Department was only a facility that passed out birth control pills and gave VD shots and was headed up by the shady character, Nurse Shirley Steele.

As Health Director, Dr. Griffith takes the Health Department in a different direction. He sees the lack of income in certain parts of the county for proper health care. He is determined to change things for the better. He hires a dentist and starts an in house dental clinic. He then hires another dentist and buys a mobile dental clinic which can drive to the schools and help young students in need of proper dental care.

Dr. Griffith also brings on an Internist onboard to help with needed primary care and a Pediatrician to care for infants and young children. These Doctors are all interesting characters. The introduction does a good job of setting up the beginning of the show as an environment of bliss, but not for long. And good things don’t last forever. Nurse Shirley Steele’s character is quickly reestablished and she decides to take Pender County’s utopia down.

The story has Mob Boss George Brown’s character slated as having hatred for the unprivileged and that providing any health care for them is a waste of the County’s budget. It’s also established that the county is in a budget crunch because of the economy, but what he doesn’t understand is the economy is improving. It won’t be long, but taking away its health care will eventually create harm. But why would Mob Boss George Brown care about what happens to the poor and the indigent. His focus is elsewhere. He wants control of it all. Mob Boss George Brown plays this not so bright character very well.

Nurse Shirley Steele was introduced in the beginning and then becomes incognito for a bit I guess for some creative reasons. Its Ms. Steele’s character and her little “girl gang” that set up the main premise of corruption for the series and then befriends the Pender County Mob Boss George Brown and somehow convinces him to help her take over the Health Department Organization. It seems her VD shot flare is becoming boring and at the same time she is not enjoying a new Medical Dr looking over shoulders or questioning her motives. You have to remember, in the storyline she was there first. It’s the old dog territorial syndrome. Mob Boss George Brown agrees, thinking he will get something good out of this as well. This relationship between the two characters is not really defined for the viewer. At least not in the beginning and it’s not until later in the storyline that the truth is finally revealed. I won’t waste my time spoiling it for you so stay tuned.

The one flaw I have with the series is the lack of face time for certain characters whose names were brought up only in conversation as written in the scripts. It’s the remaining commissioners I’m questioning. As a viewer we never really see much of them.

Commissioners, Williams, Blanchard and Rivenbark must be imaginary or in some of contractual dispute with the studio. Or maybe their characters are just too weak to stand up to Mob Boss George Brown and Jimmy “Walnuts” Tate. Anyway, I really wish we could see more of them. It might make for a more interesting series. The truth is that I’m for good over evil and I would enjoy seeing them come and kick butt. Where is John Wayne?

I am looking forward to the ending. I understand Mob Boss George Brown may have his day in ………, but on the other hand, I don’t want to give too much away. The series is airing now so check your local guide. You won’t want to miss this one! And it’s in 3D. It’s not just another reality, this is real!

Pender County Health Department

As a life long citizen of Pender County, I don't see this with the same humor as "Snoop". While Dr. Griffith has done some great things for the Pender County Health Department, I know first hand that in recent years, his leadership has suffered tremendously. He tends to be very patronizing and demeaning in his conversations with what he considers his "lesser beings". As far as lack of training in certain positions, consider this....Dr. Griffith hired then acting county manager Paul Parker's stepson Steven Throneburg as Pender County Animal Control Supervisor. This young man had no training for this position, and what's more for at least the first few months he was on the job he was not required to have any training. His employees who had been on the job for years , were forced to adhere to his "policies". They also had to do all of the "hands on" activities with the animals as Mr. Throneburg expressed fear of both the dogs and the cats. He may still have no training as far as I know.

stupid backstabbing

I am an employee of Pender County who is very tired of all of this. I have worked with Dr. G and find that he has the best interest of the county in mind. I will not say that Gwen Smith does not hold power in her position as she does. But the power held is the power that comes with the position. I feel that many of the employees that are causing trouble are not looking for a fair ride but a special ride. They want thing their way, not necessarily the fair way. I can say that I have made mention of some things that I could see as overlooked but indeed they were not overlooked they were not quite correct or some issues may have been missed by me. Would this make administration wrong or would that make me wrong??? BIG QUESTION

I feel that in the past I may not have been treated fairly by Shirley Steele so I am not sure what will happen to me if she were to be put in a position of power. So George Brown I guess I will need to find a county commisioner to support and protect me from her.... Who will calm my fears about my job... In the past it has been DO YOUR JOB... DO IT RIGHT.... AND YOU HAVE JOB SECURITY....Not anymore!!!! I wait now to see a hit man aound the corner to come after me... I feel as if one has already been recruited in my department... I now overhear many comments and find that no one should feel safe... Doing a GOOD JOB no longer counts for anything.... You must know someone or scratch someones back.... I DON'T THINK I KNOW HOW TO PLAY THE GAME!!! HELP ME GOD!!!!!!

Dear penderlifer and anyone

Dear penderlifer and anyone else who is hiding behind a false name:
To begin with I'll start with my education. I have a BA in Public Relations from North Carolina State University. Skills I learned while furthering my education are currently serving Pender County, and myself, quite a bit of good b/c it takes up about 75% of my time on the job. Dealing with the media, the public and numerous animal welfare groups on an hourly basis is not the easiest of jobs. Also, contrary to what penderlifer would have you believe, I am not scared of cats or dogs, I have been through and passed numerous training seminars to better my knowledge of my program. I am a certified euthanasia technician, a certified rabies vaccinator as well as certified in chemical immobilization (I can also instruct/train chemical immobilization).

Secondly, I was hired by a diverse panel of Health Department employees as is standard hiring procedure within the Health Department. If there was any favortism given to myself in being hired for the Animal Control Supervisor position it was not from Dr. Griffith as the panel of interviewers all agreed on hiring me.

Finally, the position I currently hold was offered to a past and current employee in the Animal Control program. This person turned the position down to remain in their present position.

I know I said "finally" in the last paragraph, but, finally, if anyone has any questions or problems with anyone they should go directly to them and express their feelings. This sneaking around and talking behind people's backs and posting anonymous comments is cowardly at best. Grow up. Make your own self. Don't try to tear others down to get where you do not belong anyways.

Stephen Throneburg

Pender County Health Department

Mr. Throneburg, I am happy to hear that you have finally received some training. Your previous education while impressive, does not qualify you to supervise animal control, especially with absolutely no knowledge of the state laws or county ordinances (I hear that you have since familiarized yourself with some of these). At the time you were hired, you admitted to being afraid of "aggressive" dogs and cats. At the time you were hired, you had no knowledge of state or county laws and ordinances. At the time you were hired, you routinely euthanized animals without being certified for months. At the time you were hired, you were not certified to give rabies shots, but did anyway. I am glad to hear that things have improved.

The fact that the county "panel" agreed to hire the acting county managers son with no regard to how that might look to more qualified applicants (and the public) just says more about how Pender County operates on the "good ol' boy" policy.

Reponse to Penderlifter

To Penderlifter:

There are ones who do and those who don’t. In many cases the ones who don’t just want to sit around and complain. Obviously this seems to be the situation here.

Nepotism is being suggested, but you have no grounds to base this on. You only have a connection.

Mr. Thorneburg is doing what others did not want to do. He was not the first choice, but he became the only choice when the position needed to be filled and no one else wanted it.

I’m sure that if you would of spoke up back then about having an interest in the position, then you would have the job. But you didn’t.

The animals at the shelter should be your first priority, but I will conclude by your tone that this is not the case.

pender County Health Department

If I didn't care about the animals, it wouldn't matter to me that an untrained person was in charge of the shelter. I work almost daily with animals and am close to the rescue group who "ran" the shelter for the county (for a few months). Trust me, I'm not just sitting back in my easy chair posting here for lack of anything else to do. I've watched this county government for years turning into something that breaks my heart. I believed that the commissioners had our best interest at heart. I wasn't naive enough to think they weren't concerned about being re-elected, but still, I thought the welfare of the county was their #1 concern. I know for a fact now that this isn't always true. I thought the person who was ultimately responsible for the animal shelter would be able to see the big picture and do what is best for the animals, not change policy from day to day (I'm referring to Dr. Griffith) and I thought that someone who had completely turned the health department of pender county around and accomplished all that Dr. G has , would know when it was time to step down before he ruined his own reputation.

Response to Penderlifter

I’m sure it wasn’t Mr. Throneburg that chased off the best thing the shelter had out there.

Mr. Throneburg is doing great things with a job which no one else wanted.

I just wish there were more employees with his attitude.

Unfortunately, the leadership problems came from Commissioners and filtered down to employees who are unhappy personalities by nature to start with. It must be a sad life.

Pender County Health Department

Snoop, I'm confused as to what was "the best thing the shelter had out there?"

Sorry Penderlifter

Sorry to inform you Penderlifter, the name started with "N".

Love it

Keep up the storyline...don't you wish investigative journalism at local stations/papers would scoop this before readers?

Reponse to Dave W

The Wilmington media market doesn’t have the needed budget, experienced reporters or the time to do in depth investigative reporting.

Unfortunately it’s the public that suffers because of this. The reporting becomes incomplete and one-sided. Of course, isn’t that the same fault we find with most of the public anyway?

So it’s up to the citizens to be more involved with their local issues and politics or they lose everything.

Health Department Leakage

There are so many issues these kids are missing. All of them need their diapers changed and their bottoms cleaned, cause they sure do stink. We need to replace them all and put qualified people in their positions. Some that will not tolorate drama and get on with the business of helping the people of pender county. I dont care what credentials the current administration has, they have lost focus and are costing our taxpayers real money. WE need to terminate their employement and hire honest hard working people that care about pender county. We need someone to step up now and take responsibility. That person will be our hero. Will that person be you Mr. Tate?
Lets wait until the poison spreads throughout our entire state before we do anything to stop it. That seems to be the way Americans handle things now. We the people.

Wake Up, Fed Up

Funny you mention drama in your comment. To remove the drama would mean to remove the lead nurse and her coerced partners that dreamt up this drama. Despite the efforts of these few drama queens that are trying to stop some of the programs that help so many people in this county, it seems the health director and some of the board of health with a few commissioners apparently are fighting to keep them here.

Who is refusing to do their jobs? Drama queens…. Good honest people? drama queens,NOT! Costing the tax payers real money? yep, the drama queens (supported by the mob boss mentioned above).

Yes it is time to remove the drama (queens). They have been humored long enough, they should no longer be tolerated. Who will be the heroes on the 2 boards that will save the programs and lose the drama queens?

I’m sure it will spread

I’m sure it will spread throughout the state when the story comes out.

The only true heroes in the Pender County offices are working in the Health Department.

Not one charge against the Health Dept was validated as factual. Factual charges were never presented in writing. Everything presented so far has been nothing more than rumored accusations. So you comments are based on diapers?

I really don’t believe Jimmy Tate will ever have what it takes to be a hero. His anger will not allow it.

If you remember

at the end of the Sopranos, several of Tony's cohorts were taken out. One was lying in the hospital in a coma.

Don't forget, through out the series, Tony was not opposed to taking matters in his own hands to end a dispute. Shot gunned his cousin; held the nose of his nephew while he bled to death in the car accident; baseball batted his partner over the horse; took his cronie who turned Fed stoolie out for a boat ride -- one way.

I've been posting for months, Mr. Tate make a choice, Comission or Board of Health.

This first review was a travesty as the person performing the "review" only interviewed 15 of the least significant employees and none of the leaders.

Wonder why?

Don't give up Dr. Jack. Some of us have your back.