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ONLY ON 3: Pender Health Dept allegations arise as commissioners look to investigate

READ MORE: Pender health department allegations arise as commissioners look to investigate

BURGAW, NC (WWAY) -- Pender County Health Department employees asked that we hide their identity because they fear for their jobs. But after commissioners decided to investigate the department, they feel their calls for help are finally being answered.

"Our health director called each of us into his office and told us that someone had been talking to a county politician, and that if it stopped now he would let it go. If not that he would find out who it is, and they would be fired," said one employee.

Another agreed saying, "(Health director Dr. Jack Griffith) said what happens in the health department stays in the health department."

Complaints like this led the Pender County Commission to call for an independent review of the health department. Commissioner Norwood Blanchard led the motion, and George Brown seconded.

"Any time someone says something to me of that nature, it sends up a red flag," Brown said. "Why would you be concerned about your job for talking to a commissioner?"

Health department employees say threats of losing their jobs were only the tip of the iceberg for what they called "poor administration."

"It had gotten to the point that the health director would not listen to anything," one employee said, "and we were concerned about losing staff members and the safety of our patients."

"Because you feel that you don't have anywhere to go. You can't go to anyone to talk to," agreed another employee.

Employees say health department administration ignored notices that certain employees were using drugs while on the job and even violating confidentiality practices. They say some employees did not receive proper training, and as a result endangered the lives of some of the patients.

"One nurse who was drawing up vaccines to give to a child, not capping the needle and sticking it into a dirty tray to carry it into a room to give to a child," rembers one employee.

Another employee added, "They didn't even know where these injections needed to go: into the arms, into the legs, what part of the body."

Employees say these problems have existed for years, and they've finally decided to come forward because it's caught the attention of the commissioners.

One employee summed it up: "I know the health department would be better off without the administration: Dr. Griffith and Gwen Smith."

We could not reach Griffith Monday night for comment.

County Manager Rick Benton says he is working as quickly as he can to provide commissioners with a list of independent and state agencies that can conduct the investigation. Commissioners say they had hoped the administration would deal with the issues before they had to get involved, but more complaints of greater magnitude have continued to come to their attention.

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Go Look

at the Topsail Voice. Dr. Griffith appeared and spoke at length on the allegations.

Seems only fair you send the Reporter to Hampstead and get Dr. Griffith's side of the story.

About the only thing missing is the Pender County NAACP trying to get a dog into this fight.

This Is Just Too Irresistible

...not comment on. This is only a small fraction of the tip of an iceberg of what is yet to come. Government health care.

I really believe

this is a few disgruntled employees trying to seek some sort of vengeance. I have met Dr. Griffith and his team, and truly feel they want the best for Pender County. They have worked hard to offer services to thousands of Pender residents. Dr. Griffith has already devoted a good part of his life to this department, and could have decided to just ride out his time, but instead he still works hard to make these services the best that he can for our county. There are some in the health department that don't get to "run" the show and for that they are apparently going to risk the entire department. I really do not believe this will be beneficial for the health department, other than stroking the egos of a few employees who felt slighted.

Pender Health Dept.

I've only dealt with Mr. Griffith on one occassion. He was very arrogant and rude to me. As as taxpayer, I didn't deserved being talked down to. I hope I never have to be in the same room with this man who thinks he is God. My impression of him was it is his way or no way. I'm going to believe what the employees say until he proves his innocence. I'm sure he wants everything to stay within the department because he probably doesn't want everyone to know how he treats the public and obviously the employees. I did go to my commissioner and complain about his attitude. This is my personal experience and opinion.

pender County Health Department

I have had the EXACT same experience, and have spoken to two other women who say he spoke to them in the same manner. "I am God, and you are an inferior being". He spoke to me as if I was a 5 year old child. He DID give my husband some respect. Does Dr. Griffith have "issues" with people who are not "professionals" AND happen to be female?

Seems like

the ground hogs didn't poke their heads out of the ground until after Dr. Jack called for tighter dog control and an expanded smoking ban on County property.

Having said that, one must wonder:

How does an employee witness another using drugs and not report that to a higher authority? Why do they wait until the media is involved and the County Commissioners have been contacted?

How do employees state they had no avenue for communication after witnessing apparent or alleged misuse of medical items and employees who could not administer medications and injections properly? There's a big Agency in Raleigh to which they could have turned.

Apparently, in many instances they felt compelled to remain silent and be an "accessory after the fact" to problems while saving their jobs -- which put individuals' health at risk. Or, they could have attracted attention to the problems even if it meant their jobs would be in jeapordy. They apparently chose the safe personal route.

Hard for me to believe they would have lost their jobs by being "whistle blowers" if they presented a clear, fact filled report rather than one which might have been laden with innuendo. I don't think the County Commissioners would have stood still for that.

"...One employee summed it up: "I know the health department would be better off without the administration: Doctor Griffith and Gwen Smith..." Or could this be a case of personal vendetta by an unhappy employee.

onslow county health dept and hospital needs investigation

no caseworkers for people with hiv/aides.
only one in onslow county. none with the health dept. they are very anti hiv/aides.
this is only one example. most of the people
with hiv/aides must go to wilmington or
greenville but our health is so against
helping hiv/aides people. maybe an investigation of all nc health depts is long overdue. also, our hospital has no services for hiv/aides. these people have to go to
wilmington or greenville. onslow county is
anti hiv/aides . onslow county doesn't want to do anything except sweep it under the rug. the
health dept and hospitals in the larger cities of nc (like jacksonville) should be leaders and
should be forced to provide help!