Sunday, July 20, 2014

Randolph Hospital Is The Biggest "Non-Profit" In Randolph County, North Carolina . . . And The Courier Tribune Must Protect It . . . At All Costs (Subtitled: What Does A Million Healthcare Dollars Buy In Asheboro?)

I've not blogged regularly since early 2013 - having moved my online activities over to Facebook . . . and, until fairly recently, curbed the time I spent there.  I have enjoyed the time away from blogging, and have only put something up when the stars aligned and begged for commentary.

Over the next week or so, I'm going to put up at least three posts . . . all inspired by what passes for newspaper "coverage" of local healthcare these days.

It's only gotten worse since I began blogging in 2005.  The world prefers "sound bites" (except when legislators are writing healthcare "reform" - then it's a 2000 page pile-of-paper-only-good-for-sitting-on), and unfortunately, this really BITES for the American public, as these snippets of incomplete (and often inaccurate) information are what guides public opinion . . . and national policy.

This first post was inspired by a Courier Tribune article, written by Chip Womick, published online on July 12.  It was a pure public-relations "fluff" piece . . . extolling (in unusual detail for Mr. Womick/this newspaper) the virtues of the hospital's charitable "mission" as a "non-profit".

But I believe there was an underlying purpose to Chip's article, and that purpose was to to plant the seed that all is not financially well with Randolph . . .  and to gently begin preparing the largely-kept-in-the-dark local populace for a buy-out by a bigger system (at this point, not being privy to the plots-and-schemes of Randolph's Macheavellian CEO, Steve Eblin, and as much as I would like it to be Baptist, I would predict UNC, CMC/Cone or Duke).

Click HERE for a link to the article (which is now hard to find through the Courier's home page unless you are specifically looking for it - we'll get to why I think that is as this post moves forward).

Suffice it to say that Randolph Hospital is Randolph County's biggest "non-profit" entity ("by a country mile") . . . classified as a  501 (c)(3) with the IRS.  It is one of the county's biggest employers . . . and without-much-doubt, the Courier Tribune's biggest advertiser.

And/so, when Steve Eblin's public-relations minions say, "Jump!", the Courier asks, "How high?".  It's been that way for years.

The best interests of the "non-profit", charged with the public good, must be protected.

A lot of the information Mr. Womick alluded to in his article (and more importantly, some that he didn't) can be found at a website called Guidestar.

One of the most important things to be found at Guidestar is a compilation of Randolph Hospital's last three IRS 990 tax returns - which are, BY LAW, public record (if you register with the site, and pay a membership fee, you can go back even further).  IRS code, is, in fact, very clear that any time a member of the public wants to see a "non-profit's" financials/returns, they MUST be provided in a TIMELY fashion.

Those returns include a list of officers (including how they are compensated), Board members and most highly-paid employees.

This information is NOT "highly confidential" in ANY sense of the word, or in ANY venue.

This point, is, of course, the REASON I came to the blogosphere (at the invitation of local "journalists") to ask for help in 2005.  And it's THE point that (over a period of many years) was TOTALLY LOST on Randolph Hospital's oh-so-ethical board members (which included some of Asheboro's "righest" names and most prominent physicians), the hospital's attorneys, my own attorney, our noble law-enforcing District Attorney (Garland Yates), the IRS/U.S. Attorney's office, our state Attorney General (Roy Cooper), a veritable host of liberal/progressive bloggers, and ultimately, Judge Stuart Albright in 2013.

I have learned, the very hard way, that laws are not worth the paper they're printed on unless they are enforced.  And, in our fair town, some people are just more worthy of justice than others.

Much more often than not, the law will not be enforced if a "non-profit" hospital is in the cross-hairs.

And that's because the best interests of the "non-profit", charged with the public good, have to be protected.

But I've gotten a little ahead of myself.  Most folks who follow this blog know my story, but I think it's a good idea to provide a little background/summary for those who, for whatever reason, have landed here for the first time.

In 1995, back in the heady days of "Hillary's Village", after my Mother took a call from my childhood doctor, Jim Kinlaw (the guy who took up my medical care AFTER Dr. Wilhoit botched my tonsillectomy/mutilated my throat), I was recruited home to Asheboro as Randolph Medical Associate's first Pediatrician.  And I was given the charge to "clean up" Pediatrics at Randolph.  Then-hospital VP/RMA President, Steve Eblin, promised me he would have my back.  I was a "valued employee" - and a clinical "partner" in the important business of providing excellent Pediatric care to the children of Asheboro.

I worked like a dog . . . totally "old school".  In addition to my office duty, I took 24/7 back-up call for EVERYBODY - if anyone had a problem in that nursery/on that floor, and was in town, I would come in and help.  I poured myself into child abuse cases.  I was the Chair of the Perinatal Committee.  I served on the county's Child Fatality Task Force.

The practice was my life - what I truly thought I was born/destined to do.

Of course, in order to clean up anything in a North Carolina mill town, one is going to step on egos, turf and toes.  A woman stepping on mill town toes is often portrayed as "difficult" (or far worse) by the good-ole-boys whose toes get bruised.

I even took on Chip Womick's wife, Sharon, after she published a simply idiotic treatise on the "dangers" (long debunked) of childhood immunizations in a Ramseur "newspaper"-now-long-since-dead.  I wrote a letter-to-the-Editor of the paper (assuming it had one) taking her "argument" apart, and questioning why a responsible publication in the modern world would publish that kind of mis-information.  It put the health and lives of children at risk.

I expect Sharon's husband didn't like that . . . or have much use for me afterwards.  It most certainly colored his view . . . and his coverage of . . . my story.

When one speaks truth to power - or even just truth to anybody - on a regular basis - one can find themselves on the wrong end of ugly labels that the businessmen-of-medicine (so absorbed with image and market share) use as tools to minimize the sting of said truth - and marginalize whoever is speaking it.

In medicine, the term they've liked to use is "disruptive".  It is a word that hides a host of ills . . . and has destroyed more-than-a-few good doctor's careers.

There is no doubt that I did earn the title.  To Steve Eblin's great chagrin, I didn't care about politics or who-was-who (in other words, "right people" were no better than anyone else - and were not due special treatment or favors).  I saw the patient-in-front-of-me, and I expected the "non-profit" to do its best by that patient . . . and for community ancillary services to support that mission.  I'm not ever going to apologize for doing my best to provide what the public was paying for.

Three years after starting the Pediatric practice from nothing . . . and pouring literally everything I had into the endeavor . . . and despite a signed/sealed contract with the National Health Service Corps (which had repaid my medical school loans for service) that specifically stated my continued practice in Asheboro could not be interfered with in any way . . . I was fired . . . "without cause" (aka a "voluntary" termination).

"Without cause" means that the "non-profit" hospital did not have a good, legally-defensible reason to fire me. Alas, in our "right-to-work" state, hospitals-of-all-kinds can do this to doctors . . . and they can act without discussion or negotiation or warning. Over the years (since Steve Eblin did it to me), hospitals have refined their technique to an art form.  One day you have a life and a practice, and the next day you don't.  You are suddenly cut off from colleagues/friends you've worked with for years (who are generally terrified to say/do anything lest the same thing happen to them), and treated as a criminal (escorted off the premises/your belongings on site packed up by people you don't know).  You have no right to a fair hearing and no recourse (while your hospital privileges, a protected property right, remain untouched - at least until your malpractice insurance runs out).  There is no chance to say good-bye to patients or colleagues, or get any kind of closure. The corporate lawyers throw a check at you (and call it a "notice") and dare you to say a word.

(Of course, daring me not to say a word after you've lied to me and screwed me over, is never a very good legal - or PR strategy.)

The "without cause" or "voluntary termination" is one of medicine's dirtiest little secrets.  The way it is done is emotionally devastating to physicians - who invest so much of their lives and souls into their educations and practices.

It is EVIL and it is cruel and it is one of the things about the business of medicine - particularly "non-profit" and public service medicine - that should have been REFORMED a long time ago . . . but hasn't been.

Randolph Hospital DID have a reason to fire me . . . but it was a reason that was not legally-defensible, and as such, would NEVER/EVER make the Courier Tribune's front page.

The best interests of the "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

In January 1998, Mr. Eblin's Practice Director (Mike Bridges) sent me a letter.  And in that letter he made a host of half-baked/trumped-up accusations that had not been vetted through ANY KIND of proper peer or physician review (another direct violation of my NHSC contract) .  The letter essentially attempted to put me in a box whose access was totally controlled by Eblin and Bridges.

I was told I had to "shut up" about problems at the hospital/practice, OR ELSE.

Physicians to whom I showed the letter (I don't take threats well) were horrified at its implications.

Just two nights later,  I would be placed in the position of making the choice that I've paid for every single minute of every day since.  I was roused from my bed by the frantic call of a terrified charge nurse, who begged me to intervene in a "bad baby" case that was being grossly mis-managed by another physician.

The Family Practitioner was an employee of a Moses Cone affiliate.  His skills and qualifications in neonatal resuscitation had been falsely advertised (by Mr. Eblin's PR team) to an unsuspecting public.  And, according to the nurse (whose judgement I implicitly trusted) the doctor had no clue as to what he was doing . . . she was very worried the baby would die before the transport team got there.

The doctor refused to acknowledge he needed help.

There wasn't really any question about what I should do.  I got out of bed.  I went in.  I took over the case (with the angry doctor yammering about his "rights" being violated in the background).  By all accounts, I correctly diagnosed the newborn's problem, and (after a quick consultation with the neonatologist-on-call at Brenner's - who told me he trusted me and to do what needed to be done), initiated the proper management that would save her life.

I (foolishly) though being in the right would be enough.  The system would surely protect me.

The next day, the medical nimrod I had rescued told the baby's parents that I was at fault for what went wrong. Fortunately, real neonatologists at N.C. Baptist Hospital (the guys who trained me) set the parents straight about who was the Pediatric expert - and who was the wannabe.

I reported the incident to hospital peer review the next morning (again in defiance of the Practice Director's threats).  Nothing would ultimately come of it, of course.  The wagons circled fairly quickly - and not around me.

Months later, when I felt "safe" to do so (we'll get to that in a couple of paragraphs), I would report it (in confidence) to the N.C. Medical Board, the Joint Commission for Accreditation of Hospital Organizations (JCAHO), and Clinton USDHHS Secretary, Donna Shalala.

Each and every one of those "oversight" organizations, in excruciatingly slow, methodical succession, threw me under the bus . . . to protect the "non-profit" and its charitable works.  The life and career of one doctor . . . one public servant . . . did not matter in the face of Randolph Hospital's best interests.

I was a Federal whistle-blower long before whistle-blowing was cool.  Alas, part of my problem in pursuing this case from the start is that the Federal government I served (honorably and well) did not have my back and did not enforce ANYTHING . . . not my contract/the practice's agreement with the NHSC . . . not IRS code . . . not Federal law.

The government totally let me swing.

Years later, "reform", as legislated by Obamacare poured millions into the National Health Service Corps (without doing anything to better protect its providers), and has the IRS over-seeing healthcare.  And it's just absurd . . . a joke really, to those of us who have been schooled in how the Federal bureaucracy works.

Moreover, whistle-blowing physicians are already hog-tied by the canons of our profession - by confidentiality and privacy - and HIPAA.  The "protections" we supposedly enjoy are only obtainable if one can afford a $500/hr lawyer.  Most of us wind up eating our whistles.

(My salary at RMA was $129,000 year when I was fired.  I definitely could not afford a $500/hour lawyer. Instead, I got a Schmidly.)

It is also very hard to convince the general public that anything awful happened when EVERY oversight agency you plead your case to turns a deaf ear . . . and just pretends you do not exist.

The best interests of the "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

I will say that Congressman Howard Coble did manage to see that RMA paid for my malpractice insurance "tail"coverage (as was required by the practice's site agreement with the NHSC).  But it was nine months after the fact, and the damage was long done.

Of course, everything that happened is a little more believable these days.  For sixteen years later, all you have to do to understand my predicament is try to schedule a simple appointment at a Veterans Administration (VA) Hospital.  Or find/read an IRS e-mail.

Mr. Eblin and his lawyers added injury to insult when they crafted the pay-out of a six-month "notice" in such a fashion as to completely muzzle me . . . AND (most importantly) prevent me from cleanly/smoothly transitioning into private practice.  They wanted to keep "the business" for themselves.  I could not complain under threat of termination-for-cause (a career-killing event), and I could not do anything (including working on a practice start-up) that might compete with my "employer".  This too was in wholesale violation of my agreement with the National Health Service Corps . . . whose mission is not only to recruit physicians to "under-served" areas, but to RETAIN their services.  In that six-month time period, Mr. Eblin repeatedly LIED to angry parents about my sudden/unexplained disappearance (leading many to believe I had abandoned them).  Meanwhile, practice and hospital Board Members (virtually interchangeable), who were legally responsible for every decision Eblin made, distanced themselves from what happened . . . ala, they were not involved in the decision to fire me . .   the hospital was paying me "severance" . . . and I was "free" to do anything I wanted.

These good/fine upstanding Christian businessmen, who now make a big show of attending prayer events on behalf of our now-"dying" town (Forbes Magazine said so) begging The Lord for prosperity, were LYING.  RMA would not even give me a list of my patients.

Their "non-profit" hospital, charged with the public good, had to be protected.

(From what I understand of the Scriptures, the Lord turns a deaf ear to liars/hypocrites.)

The Courier Tribune, totally in the hospital's pocket, printed a few of the tamer letters the got from very angry parents, but otherwise did NOTHING to investigate what happened - or inform the public of the hospital's dirty-dealings.

Their financial lifeblood, the "non-profit" hospital, charged with the public good, had to be protected.

In early February 1999, with everything I had ever worked for in Asheboro destroyed, I sued Randolph Medical Associates.

When Randolph Hospital's lawyers found out about my complaint to USDHHS Secretary Shalala (during depositions), they recommended to the hospital's Board-of-Directors that I be sued for "libel".

It's called a SLAPP-suit . . . a legal intimidation tactic to get your opponent to back down.

The Board accepted the recommendation.  Jim Kinlaw, (of White Oak Family Physicians - a potential competitor if I had stayed in town), my childhood doctor and the man who had been instrumental in recruiting me home to Asheboro, abstained from the vote . . . not because what the hospital was doing was medically and morally reprehensible . . . but because of his "conflicted interest" . . . specifically his "friendship" with my parents (my Mother had taught his children - just like she taught Courier Editor, Ray Criscoe's).

With "friends" like that Tom and Irene Johnson did not need enemies.

But, in Dr. Kinlaw's view, the best interests of the "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.  Killing a little competition in the process was GRAVY.  No conflicts there.

I WAS mortified and humiliated (largely because the Courier Tribune reported the story as a front page headline - a great read for my horrified parents), but I didn't back down.

The lawsuits were settled, in my favor, in 2001 for $125,000 . . . less than one year's salary . . . after three years of professional humiliation and misery piled on top of the loss of my three-year-old practice.  I was exhausted, disillusioned, nearly bankrupt myself, and desperate for normalcy and peace.

I agreed to this amount because in settlement negotiations (forced by the trial judge), the hospital represented itself to be nearly "bankrupt" and maintained that they were unable to afford more than the 125K.  But I was assured that if I cooperated and settled, they would do everything they could to see that I was able to re-establish my practice.

In deposition and sworn court filings, hospital executives maintained that their financial records were "highly confidential".  Even after a judge's order to provide the records, the hospital neglected to include IRS 990's.

And here's why:  Those IRS 990's indicated that any way you did the math, I should have gotten nearly $800,000 in damages. Moreover, the salaries of RMA's Pediatricians had nearly doubled almost as soon as I was tossed out the door.  The Pediatricians were suddenly making in the neighborhood of $200,000 per year.  Arguably, this could have pushed my damages claim to the million dollar mark.

(This will be an important number later.)

Either figure (hell, even half pf either of those figures), after taxes, would have been more than enough to pay my (not inconsiderable) legal fees and debts after three years of litigation and barely making ends meet as a Locum Tenens (my Mom, the sainted TEACHER, had to make my mortgage payment on at least one occasion) . . . then finance the re-establishment the practice that Steve Eblin destroyed and absorbed as his own.

It was the whole POINT of my lawsuit.  I wanted the truth to out.  I wanted to be vindicated.  I wanted to be restored.  I wanted to COME HOME.

But NONE of that would happen, because Bob Morrison (then Randolph Hospital CEO) and Steven Eblin (then hospital VP/practice President - now Randolph Hospital CEO) LIED, REPEATEDLY, to me and to the Court . . . and were allowed to get away with it - by every individual and every state/Federal oversight or law enforcement entity that should have held their feet to the fire.

If Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin had been the least bit worried about the consequences of not obeying the law . . . and if (even in my exhausted/demoralized state) I had seen those returns - and what Randolph Hospital was pulling in . . . not-to-mention what the supposedly all-but-bankrupt "non-profit" practice was paying its doctors and executives (after three years of being doing Pediatrics didn't make them enough money), I would most certainly not have bought the load-of-horse-hockey Bob Morrison and Steve Eblin were selling . . . that if I didn't cooperate . . . for the good of the community . . . the practice could fold.

Now, a lot of people have pointed out that my attorney should have known that the information was out there/available - and insisted on having the returns at his fingertips during settlement negotiations.  And it's a point well taken.  Steve Schmidly and I had a huge falling out after I pulled all of this information together - and understood just how thoroughly I had been hosed.  And he's dead now.  I will never know the why's. But regardless of what Schmidly did or did not do, I do know that Bob Morrison and Steve Eblin, as executives of a "non-profit", and "public servants" charged with the public good, should NEVER have gotten away with what they did.

They should have been fired.  And arguably fined/prosecuted.

And don't even get me started on their high-dollar lying lawyers.  Let's just say that the North Carolina State Bar and I have a different definition of legal ethics.

But NONE of the checks or balances in the system worked - starting with Randolph Hospital's LEGALLY RESPONSIBLE Board-of-Directors - also charged with the public good. 

The signatures were not even dry on the settlement before Randolph Hospital's senior executives were acting like jerks again.  They were not going to help me with anything.  They had pulled a fast one and dodged a bullet.  Their Board-of-Directors snickered right along with them at their ingenuity.

For it's part, the lap-dog-known-as-the-Courier Tribune buried the story of my legal "victory" in a second page short-take.  A good many of the good people of Asheboro - who had read the headline that I was a liar - never heard that Morrison and Eblin ran from their own lawsuit with their tails tucked between their legs.  Can you pronounce PRAVDA?

The "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

Justice was obstructed . . . and the public good thwarted . . . because two "non-profit" executives were not compelled IN ANY WAY to comply with IRS rules governing "non-profits".  They/their lawyers knew that, in North Carolina, they could do what they wanted under the cover of "charity", and not worry about being held accountable.

And I gave up on ever coming back home to practice.  I had won the battle - but lost the war.

One more point:  All of the tax dollars that were spent by the National Health Service Corps (and in my case, the NC Office of Rural Health) to recruit both me and Dr. Laurie Anderson to Asheboro were poured down the drain when we left.  And pissed on.

When I finally pieced the ruse all together, once of the first things I did was write the IRS and ask that the hospital be fined for withholding the returns, and/or the executives involved prosecuted for perjury.  With some persistence, I even got to sit down with an FBI agent . . . who did not dispute the merits of my case.

But the IRS/U.S Attorney's office did NOTHING.

The "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

Does ANYONE see the irony now - in the wake of healthcare "reform" that put the IRS in charge?  The SAME IRS that would not life a finger to help me?

Locally, I couldn't get the case past our local Jabba-Lord, Garland Yates . . . to the N.C. Attorney General (who cannot intervene unless asked) . . . for a proper investigation.  Garland clearly wanted to keep a lid on all of it.

Let's move on now to Chip Womick's article:

It starts with the basics.  Randolph Hospital's revenues (what they pulled in) were $122.8 million in the fiscal year ending in September 2012.  Once operational expenses and payroll were figured in, Randolph Hospital lost 2.4 million dollars last year.  The article states they lost nearly that same amount the year before.

The article goes on to list beds and visits to the various departments (inpatient, emergency department, outpatient clinics, home health visits), and stated that nearly 30% of the patients seen were uninsured.

It then goes on to state the obvious - the hospital's mission as a "non-profit" is to see what comes in the door regardless of a patient's ability to pay.  It's "Civics 101" - and the reason I came home . . .

. . . to serve the place where I grew up - the place where my Mother had taught school (special Ed, then kindergarten, then first grade) for over 30 years.

And I would submit that a SMART businessman would NEVER have done the things that Steve Eblin did to this "home girl".  You simply do not banish someone from their childhood home - someone who came home to better the place - because you're a monopolistic control freak.  It's just not going to turn out well.

I digress (had to get at least one in).  Chip goes on to provide us with a little history . . . which, in light of the stunts Morrison and Eblin have been able to pull during their reign-of-terror began in 1993 . . . is very interesting to me:

The hospital opened its doors in July 1932 . . . partially funded by a grant from the Duke Endowment . . .. and the rest raised by the community (ala pennies-in-milk-cartoons in the throws of the Depression) . . . after the N.C. General Assembly enacted a bill authorizing its incorporation.  Objectives included . . .

"To maintain and operate an institution for the treatment of sick people under the direction and supervision of skilled physicians and surgeons."  And . . .

"To have and issue no capital stock . . . to be operated and maintained at actual cost and entirely without profit, making only such changes to its inmates and patients for rooms, beds, attention and services as will be adequate to defray its actual cost and no more."

The hospital "BELONGED TO THE PEOPLE" of Randolph County.

Savor that one dear reader.   I say again, the hospital BELONGED TO THE PEOPLE.

The Courier Tribune allows comments on its stories.  Unless they are mine.  Ray Crisco (the Editor) has told people that he would allow my comments on stories about the hospital if I didn't "always" take them back to what the hospital did to me.

I need to "get over it" and "move on".

The "non-profit, charged with the public good, must be protected.

The first comment on this story was dropped by VenitHiems.  I will neither confirm nor deny that I know who Venit is.  (For the record, I don't think "Winter is coming".  I know it is already here.):

"Nice article. Very . . . what is the word . . . "transparent". It contains lots of information (names of board members and such) that was very hard to get Mr. Eblin to share in the not-too-distant past. 

But you left out the part about overpaid executives driving "dime-a-dozen" Pediatricians out of town - one of them (born, raised and educated within an hour of Asheboro) because she had the audacity to listen/respond to hospital nurses and save a baby's life.

The only outcome Mr Eblin was focused on then was PR. What happened to that patient didn't matter to him. And what he/his boss did to that doctor (a Federal whistleblower before whistleblowing was cool) was criminal. Not real "charitable" if you asked me.

The business about all of the hospital's profits going back into the organization for the good of the community is a little hard to stomach as well - if one has seen the IRS returns - and Bob Morrison's house.

Let's see if things in Asheboro have really changed. Let's see if the local newspaper leaves this comment up."


Shortly thereafter, my good friend, Henry "Buzz" Armfield (of the Asheboro Armfields, whose family name graces the front door of the hospital's cancer center), took his scalpel to the piece:

"I've been hesitant to involve myself with anything Asheboro related, after all, I haven't lived there in many years, and what family I had there is now deceased (there could be some cousins, but I haven't seen them in years, and I have no relationship with them). But, this article was brought to my attention, and it made me take notice. There's something I want from Asheboro, and I'd like for the matter to be taken under consideration. And what do I want?, why I want the bronze plaque that hangs at the front of the Armfield Cancer Center, the one in memorial of my paternal grandparents....and here's why....

According to GuideStar USA, Inc., a reporting service for non-profits, in 2011 Randolph Hospital, Inc. paid then CEO Robert Morrison $1,112,524 in annual compensation under W2/1099 forms, and...they declared it on an IRS form 990, prepared for them by an out of town, actually an out of state, accounting firm…feel free to Google and see it for yourselves. I suppose using accountants from far away cuts down on the ability of the locals to know what goes on. If you look further into the GuideStar profile for Randolph Hospital, Inc., you will see that they have never identified their board, and have not provided the IRS form 990 for the 2012 fiscal year.

Furthermore, in the same financial time period, Randolph Hospital, Inc. paid someone named Sandra F. Allen, who's identified as Vice President of Clinical Services, $436,291 in compensation….and, total compensation for all "current officers, directors, trustees, and key employees" per part IX, Statement of Functional Expenses on the IRS 990 filed for the time period was $2,653,573.....so, that means that Bob Morrison was solely responsible for almost....42 percent of this expense. To Ms. Allen's credit, she was only in it for a mere 16 percent. Look, almost 58% of this amount went to.....just two people….but….the hospital is losing money?

Stay with me now.....

An industry publication, Becker's Hospital Review, dated September 26, 2012, lists the CEO compensation of the top 25 grossing non-profit hospitals in the United States….., it can be easily found via an Internet search, and one just needs to scroll down to the final listing, which is held by Kevin Sowers of lowly Duke University Hospital in our own Durham, NC......by the way, this data was compiled from IRS 990's for the year 2010....the same form that Randolph Hospital filed and which can be seen on GuideStar….our poor Mr. Sowers made a paltry $658,592 in comparison. Betcha he wishes he were CEO at Randolph Hospital instead of that "small time" medical center in Durham…

That the Courier-Tribune has taken the time to publish this is nothing less than amazing. They aren't much when it comes to investigative journalism, in fact I've always felt that it was a "sunshine and puppies" sort of publication where all the news is good, all of the time.

Steve Eblin makes an interesting comment…..“Last year,” he said, “two-thirds of the hospitals in North Carolina lost money.”

If you read the article titled "Non Profit Hospitals Thrive on Profits" in the April 21, 2012 edition of "The Charlotte Observer", you will see this…."Nonprofit hospitals in the Charlotte region are respected community institutions. They save lives, heal the sick and provide good jobs. At the same time, most of them are stockpiling a fortune.

Their profits have risen along with their prices. Top executives are paid millions as their hospitals expand, buy expensive technology and build aggressively. And they benefit each year from a perk worth millions: They pay no income, property or sales taxes.These institutions were created with charitable missions. But many don’t act like nonprofits anymore. In their quest for growth and financial strength, they have contributed to the rising cost of health care, leaving thousands of patients with bills they struggle to pay."

And, in the Raleigh "News and Observer" dated April 22, 2012, a very similar article was run with the title "North Carolina's Urban Hospitals Pile Up the Cash"…..note that the "News and Observer" is a sister publication to the "Charlotte Observer" and both owned by the McClatchy Company…it said…."North Carolina’s hospitals are respected community institutions. They save lives, heal the sick, contribute to local charities and provide good jobs.Most of them are nonprofits. But many of them, especially the big ones, are making a fortune.During the Great Recession, their profits have stayed strong, and they’ve raised their prices. Top executives enjoy million-dollar compensation packages as they expand, buy expensive technology and build lavish facilities. Their customers buy the services before they know the cost, and they often don’t understand the bills."

Steve Eblin is the same guy who was overheard telling a group OB-GYN physicians employed by Randolph Hospital, Inc. that …."Pediatricians are a dime a dozen"……..I would love for him to have had said that to the late Drs. John L. Cochran and Eugene B. Cannon (my uncle), being seagoing veterans of World War II, they would've mopped the floor with him. Both of them, along with the now retired Dr. Ann H. Suggs, were the Pediatricians for many generations in your community. And, unlike what Steve Eblen promotes, they practiced medicine first, and counted money afterwards, and quite often they did it gratis, or for reduced fees. Neither Drs. Cochran nor Suggs lived in the more affluent areas of your community, and the exception being Dr. Cannon, and that was solely due to my late maternal grandmother giving him and her daughter (my Aunt Dee Armfield Cannon) the cash to build on Lexington Road.

I love numbers, they make things stand out....and by now you should be seeing something. Your local hospital still uses bloodletting, it's just that your entire community is the one being drained. It's not so difficult to see how Randolph Hospital, Inc. has been losing money is it? More so with the likes of the board members who have to be aware that this is taking place. I'll single one out, and I can as I have worked for him, and that would be none other than "Mikey" Miller. He took one of your local banks, long established and loyal to the community, and with his arrogance, and ignorance, drove it right into the arms of federal regulators. That was a precursor for what is to come with your hospital.....get ready for Big Hospital, Inc., it's coming to Asheboro. They'll swoop in, take over, and make changes, and they'll save your hospital, but....you'll never again be….local.

Perhaps this is what you want.....

Now, back to what I want....the bronze plaque. When Big Hospital, Inc. comes in, and takes charge, I suspect they'll close your cancer center, and face it, with five cancer centers (and...I didn't factor in UNC, nor Duke) located within a 30-35 minute drive of Asheboro, they'll likely do it. And, I want the plaque....and you will certainly ask...why?

Why?...well, I have this friend, who was one of the smarter folks whom I grew up with, and she more than anything else wanted to return to Asheboro and practice medicine, Pediatrics to be specific. She worked hard, and was said to be one of the most technically-gifted grads ever to come out of the Pediatric residency program at Brenner Children’s Hospital (N.C. Baptist Hospital). She returned to Asheboro for the sole reason that she wanted to come home and give back to her community, and went to work for….Randolph Hospital, Inc. And for this, she was nearly financially and emotionally destroyed by the management of this very same hospital. Honestly, knowing what I know about Randolph Hospital, Inc., I've never wanted my family name associated with the place. So, with their red ink, and this first ever article, it appears that they're headed for either insolvency, or…a buyout. I'll wager a buyout.

I want to give the plaque to her, to hang in her home. A reminder that she did the right thing, in spite of being in the wrong place. Besides, it gets my family name off of the side of the building….just call me when I can come and get the plaque."  
 


Buzz's comment made me cry.

The Courier's story posted on a Saturday.  By Tuesday both comments were deleted.  There was apparently a third comment posted that I never got to see.

The "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

Then the story, although apparently popular (I would guess for its comments), disappeared from the Courier's webpage - and could not be brought up on a simple word-association search.  But I had linked the story . . . and posted the comments on Facebook.

And undaunted, VenitHiems posted another comment:

Could the newspaper please advise as to why two comments posted over the weekend (which questioned the obscenely inflated salaries of the hospital's senior executives - and compared them to the hospital's "losses") were removed from this story?  

Neither comment appeared to violate any "term of service".  


I would assume either the Editor - or the reporter - removed them.  


Why is the Courier Tribune so determined to shut down any and all criticism of Randolph County's largest 501 (c)(3)?  Is there something ugly in their closet?


And, Buzz Armfield, not-at-all-pleased with the newspaper's censorship, re-posted his comment.

This time the comments stayed up.  But the comment section was quickly closed.  And the story remains buried.

The "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.

Before closing, I said I'd get back to that million-dollar figure.  We're going to go back to Guidestar.

As Chip pointed out (and Buzz ran with), Randolph Hospital lost $2,475,870 in the fiscal year ending on September 30, 2012 (IRS year 2011).

It "lost" $1,911,810 the previous year (IRS year 2010).

Former CEO, Bob Morrison, pocketed 1,295,424 in fiscal year 2011.

He pocketed $951,760 in fiscal year 2010.

His salary alone accounts for half the hospital's "losses" for both fiscal years.

As Buzz alluded in his comment on Chip's story, a million-plus dollars is also a criminally inflated amount of reimbursement for the CEO of a "non-profit" hospital in a small mill town.  There is simply NO WAY the Board-of-Directors can justify dolling out that kind of money to an administrator.

Now go back to Randolph Hospital's stated mission when it was founded:

"To maintain and operate an institution for the treatment of sick people under the direction and supervision of skilled physicians and surgeons."

During his tenure at Randolph Hospital, Bob Morrison did not see a single patient.  What he did do is schmooze and kissed the "right" asses to stay in power - and lord over those who did. As far as I can tell, he never had one original idea and skimmed his very phat living off the labor of other "lesser" beings.  He did what he wanted to whomever he wanted and answered to no one (his Board-of-Directors rubber-stamping everything he did) . . . especially not skilled physicians or surgeons.

I can state, very factually, that Bob's cluelessly Draconian control-freak management is the reason a number of skilled physicians who once saw the promise of Asheboro left it behind in the dust.

Now that you've pondered what Asheboro/Randolph County got for Bob's millions, think about what I should have been awarded at settlement of the lawsuits in 2001 . . . IF Bob Morrison and Steve Eblin had been compelled in any way - by anyone/any agency . . . to admit the truth about what they had done . . . and acknowledge the true value of what they had stolen.

Hell, think about what half of that sum might have accomplished:

For one, the re-establishment of my practice and the retention of my services to the children of Asheboro . . . the place where I grew up . . . the place where I intended to live and practice the whole of my career.

And for another, the completion of the stated mission of the National Health Service Corps . . . a mission Randolph Hospital accepted many years ago . . . a mission already bought and paid for by the American taxpayer . . . only for hospital executives to betray by breaking every promise they ever made, and stealing my practice as their own . . . all because I dared tell them they were medically, ethically, morally WRONG.

But the "non-profit", charged with the public good, had to be protected.  At ALL costs.

I, for one, think the cost to Asheboro and Randolph County was too high.

I know I will never get back what I lost . . . what was stolen from me . . . it is too much to put into words.  You don't "get over it".  You move on as a shell of what you could have been.

For healthcare "reform" to get anywhere (particularly as it pertains to curbing costs), "the public good" needs to be re-evaluated and re-aligned to more closely approximate what we were all taught in high school civics class.

In my case (and Buzz Armfield's) that would be Asheboro High School.  Class of 1980.

As for what passes for local journalism in Asheboro, upon his retirement, the Courier Tribune awarded Bob Morrison with a soapbox (a series of guest editorials) from which he could biliously vomit his progressive/high-minded theories of what we should all believe - and how we should act - upon a public that had already paid-through-the-nose for his dubious "services".

It has been annoysome, but I have had some fun with that. Lots of fun.

At any rate, I think it's well-established now that, where Dr. Mary Johnson is concerned, in determinedly protecting the "non-profit" from the consequences of its own folly, the Courier Tribune has NEVER been on the side of the public good.

And NONE of it was for the children.

As for the true purpose of Chip's article, my family, friends and I do not need any softening up.  We would WELCOME a buy-out . . . the sooner, the better.  Randolph Hospital is no "House-of-God", and it needs to be steam-cleaned . . . starting with the executive offices.

I expect you could save a couple million dollars right there.
Randolph Hospital, which opened its doors on July 9, 1932, turned 82 last week.
The N.C. General Assembly enacted a bill authorizing its incorporation. The bill detailed “the objects for which this corporation is formed.”
Among them: “To maintain and operate an institution for the treatment of sick people under the direction and supervision of skilled physicians and surgeons.”
Also: “The corporation is to have and issue no capital stock and is to be operated and maintained at actual cost and entirely without profit, making only such charges to its inmates and patients for rooms, beds, attention and services as will be adequate to defray its actual cost and no more.”
An invitation from the members of the hospital building committee appeared in the July 7, 1932, edition of The Courier: “Everybody is invited to come to Asheboro Saturday, July 9th to celebrate the opening of the Randolph Hospital Inc. Special invitation are not necessary. The hospital belongs to the Randolph people and the general public is invited to attend the formal opening. The formal opening program will be held in the Asheboro school auditorium at 10:45 a.m. and an inspection reception at the hospital at 2:00 p.m.”
The hospital was built with a matching grant from the Duke Endowment. Original plans called for a donation of $50,000 from the endowment and construction of a 40-bed hospital at a cost of $100,000. When the community raised $65,000 — at the outset of the Great Depression — the Duke Endowment raised its donation to $65,000.
The extra money allowed for construction of a nurses’ home, beautification of the hospital grounds, and completely equipping the hospital with the latest modern appliances and conveniences. The hospital was debt-free when it opened.
Outcomes, not profit
Eblin estimated that 90 percent of the hospitals in the nation — and most hospitals in North Carolina — operate as nonprofits.
“Last year,” he said, “two-thirds of the hospitals in North Carolina lost money.”
Randolph Hospital has lost money for two years in a row due to a combination of factors, including the economy, Eblin explained. He said cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements contributed to the shortfall. Another factor was ongoing changes in the healthcare industry accelerated by the Affordable Care Act.
“In the past, we were paid for how much we did for a patient,” Eblin said.
Now, reimbursements are tied to patient outcomes.
“The goal — and this is a good goal for the patient — is to keep people healthier and not in hospital beds,” he said. “The medical community here and all around has become much more effective at doing that.”
- See more at: http://courier-tribune.com/news/randolph-s-largest-501c3#sthash.E0Ti5Ldk.dpuf
Randolph Hospital, which opened its doors on July 9, 1932, turned 82 last week.
The N.C. General Assembly enacted a bill authorizing its incorporation. The bill detailed “the objects for which this corporation is formed.”
Among them: “To maintain and operate an institution for the treatment of sick people under the direction and supervision of skilled physicians and surgeons.”
Also: “The corporation is to have and issue no capital stock and is to be operated and maintained at actual cost and entirely without profit, making only such charges to its inmates and patients for rooms, beds, attention and services as will be adequate to defray its actual cost and no more.”
An invitation from the members of the hospital building committee appeared in the July 7, 1932, edition of The Courier: “Everybody is invited to come to Asheboro Saturday, July 9th to celebrate the opening of the Randolph Hospital Inc. Special invitation are not necessary. The hospital belongs to the Randolph people and the general public is invited to attend the formal opening. The formal opening program will be held in the Asheboro school auditorium at 10:45 a.m. and an inspection reception at the hospital at 2:00 p.m.”
The hospital was built with a matching grant from the Duke Endowment. Original plans called for a donation of $50,000 from the endowment and construction of a 40-bed hospital at a cost of $100,000. When the community raised $65,000 — at the outset of the Great Depression — the Duke Endowment raised its donation to $65,000.
The extra money allowed for construction of a nurses’ home, beautification of the hospital grounds, and completely equipping the hospital with the latest modern appliances and conveniences. The hospital was debt-free when it opened.
Outcomes, not profit
Eblin estimated that 90 percent of the hospitals in the nation — and most hospitals in North Carolina — operate as nonprofits.
“Last year,” he said, “two-thirds of the hospitals in North Carolina lost money.”
Randolph Hospital has lost money for two years in a row due to a combination of factors, including the economy, Eblin explained. He said cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements contributed to the shortfall. Another factor was ongoing changes in the healthcare industry accelerated by the Affordable Care Act.
“In the past, we were paid for how much we did for a patient,” Eblin said.
Now, reimbursements are tied to patient outcomes.
“The goal — and this is a good goal for the patient — is to keep people healthier and not in hospital beds,” he said. “The medical community here and all around has become much more effective at doing that.”
- See more at: http://courier-tribune.com/news/randolph-s-largest-501c3#sthash.E0Ti5Ldk.dpuf
Randolph Hospital, which opened its doors on July 9, 1932, turned 82 last week.
The N.C. General Assembly enacted a bill authorizing its incorporation. The bill detailed “the objects for which this corporation is formed.”
Among them: “To maintain and operate an institution for the treatment of sick people under the direction and supervision of skilled physicians and surgeons.”
Also: “The corporation is to have and issue no capital stock and is to be operated and maintained at actual cost and entirely without profit, making only such charges to its inmates and patients for rooms, beds, attention and services as will be adequate to defray its actual cost and no more.”
An invitation from the members of the hospital building committee appeared in the July 7, 1932, edition of The Courier: “Everybody is invited to come to Asheboro Saturday, July 9th to celebrate the opening of the Randolph Hospital Inc. Special invitation are not necessary. The hospital belongs to the Randolph people and the general public is invited to attend the formal opening. The formal opening program will be held in the Asheboro school auditorium at 10:45 a.m. and an inspection reception at the hospital at 2:00 p.m.”
The hospital was built with a matching grant from the Duke Endowment. Original plans called for a donation of $50,000 from the endowment and construction of a 40-bed hospital at a cost of $100,000. When the community raised $65,000 — at the outset of the Great Depression — the Duke Endowment raised its donation to $65,000.
The extra money allowed for construction of a nurses’ home, beautification of the hospital grounds, and completely equipping the hospital with the latest modern appliances and conveniences. The hospital was debt-free when it opened.
Outcomes, not profit
Eblin estimated that 90 percent of the hospitals in the nation — and most hospitals in North Carolina — operate as nonprofits.
“Last year,” he said, “two-thirds of the hospitals in North Carolina lost money.”
Randolph Hospital has lost money for two years in a row due to a combination of factors, including the economy, Eblin explained. He said cuts to Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements contributed to the shortfall. Another factor was ongoing changes in the healthcare industry accelerated by the Affordable Care Act.
“In the past, we were paid for how much we did for a patient,” Eblin said.
Now, reimbursements are tied to patient outcomes.
“The goal — and this is a good goal for the patient — is to keep people healthier and not in hospital beds,” he said. “The medical community here and all around has become much more effective at doing that.”
- See more at: http://courier-tribune.com/news/randolph-s-largest-501c3#sthash.E0

Sunday, June 08, 2014

The (Con)e Is Up: Word Down

I left regular blogging in January 2013.  Most of this blog is archived now because I have plans for the material.  But every now and then something comes along that inspires my fingers to dance on the keyboards again.  Billy Jones put up such a post this morning and I responded on his blog.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Former Randolph Hospital CEO, Bob Morrison on "Nurses' Week": The Most Hollow And Hypocritical Of "Thank You's"

As I hold my breath . . . anticipating the certification of Keith Crisco’s loss to Clay Aiken in the Democratic Primary for North Carolina’s 2nd District Congressional Seat, the perpetually-out-of-touch-with-the-community-they-serve Editorial staff at the Courier Tribune are once again giving Crisco’s long-time-good-buddy-and-partner-in-mill-town-killing-crime, Bob Morrison, a forum from which he can rehabilitate his reputation as Asheboro’s own $700,000 man.
     
Just like Crisco’s stint on the Asheboro School Board gave “Evil Keith” the stones – if not the actual creds – to claim that he was a “friend” to teachers (I was just a little girl, but I remember, and the notion is worthy of poop from a flying pig), Bob, as Randolph Hospital’s former CEO, would like you to think that, for the last thirty-five years, he has been a good friend to nurses.

Nothing could be further from the truth.  It’s a ludicrous assertion . . . pure hypocrisy . . . to the point of being offensive to anyone who ever attended a patient’s bedside at his hospital.  And it all boils down to what Bob did to a home-grown Pediatrician in January of 1998 . . .

. . . a Pediatrician who put everything she’d ever wanted or worked for on the line (defying the threats of Bob’s managerial underlings - including current hospital CEO, Steven Eblin) in order to answer a terrified Labor-Delivery-Recovery-Postpartum (LDRP) charge nurse’s phone call in the middle-of-the-night . . . on a night when the Pediatrician wasn’t even on-call.

Bob starts his piece this time with the acknowledgement that nurses rank first on the American public’s respectometer (at least according to a recent Gallup poll) . . . above firefighters and pharmacists and teachers and doctors and military officers.

(Lawyers and business executives – the people who actually run the medicine shows now – at least in North Carolina - rank much lower on the list.  That, of course, explains why the Courier Tribune gives Bob the bully-pulpit, while the doctor-done-wrong-because-she-didn’t-roll-over-and-go-back-to-sleep is banned from commenting on stories and editorials – as it is the Editorial position of the Courier Tribune that she should just “get over it” and "move on".)

Bob goes on to postulate that nurses rank so highly because people believe that nurses put their patients first:  “. . . our welfare is more important to the nurse than her (or his) personal income or convenience.”

I would submit that while the welfare of their patients is of upmost concern to nurses everywhere, it’s very convenient for hospital CEO’s like Bob Morrison to maintain that personal income is not important to a nurse.  Nurses have families and bills just like the rest of us.  Indeed most of them spend their days literally ministering to people who essentially get everything for which the nurses work their asses off . . . for “free”.  I’ve watched these women get treated little better than waitresses by people who couldn’t even spit out a, “Thank You” (some of them spit out far worse).  It's beyond discouraging and wears you down. 

I’ve lost count of the times (after one soul-sucking disaster or another in the middle of the night – in which I and a few nurses have managed to make something very wrong, right) that I’ve sat down and had that politically-incorrect conversation with a nurse thinking about quitting her job.  These (mostly) women are not Mother Teresas in scrubs.  They’re flesh-and-blood human beings . . . who became nurses for many of the same reasons I became a doctor . . . and expected to be well-paid/appreciated . . .but these days, are often taken totally for granted, used and abused by their corporate masters.   

Of course, feeding this notion that pay is not as important to nurses as being totally subservient to people who feel entitled to their services has no doubt made it easier for Bob and his cohorts at Randolph Hospital to move nurses around like pawns on his chessboard of power and corporate bonuses – to cut their pay and lay them off and under-staff their shifts to serve the gods of the bottom line. 

Back in the day, Bob’s left-hand man, Steve Eblin begrudged me an RN in the office.  She was a damned good RN too. 

I’ve always found it interesting that, in America, people (especially business executives) do not equate respect with income.  For if they did, nurses and teachers and firefighters and police officers and veterans (and even primary-care “providers”) would be paid more than people who play ball for a living.

I digress.  And Bob goes on (perhaps with his most irony-soaked treatise to date – given the way he conducted “business” while CEO of Randolph Hospital), “We trust them because they demonstrate trustworthiness through their behavior.  When we deal with others, we often sense that their priority is something other than us.  The elected official might value contributions or political gain above representing our interests.  The journalist might prefer promoting a scandal to insightful reporting about a tragedy.”

The thing is that, in Asheboro, North Carolina, the journalists' arms had to be twisted to report anything remotely scandalous emanating from Bob's hospital. And Bob knows all about politicians who put personal gain – and “right people” connections – above representing all of their constituents fairly.  I will never EVER forget the angry scowl on Keith Crisco’s face when my family and I put up with all of the Asheboro City Council’s petty slights and insults just for the privilege of appearing before them at the end of a meeting (in the spring of 2004) to beg for help – and some oversight – of the way local “non-profit” hospital did “business”.  For standing before him was a second generation “that woman” . . . a doctor with more balls than any man he knew . . . standing up for her fractured rights as a public servant brought home with Federal and state money (rights that his good-buddy, Bob Morrison trampled all over) . . . the daughter of a local teacher and one-time NCAE representative upon whom Keith once bestowed the same condescension and disdain.  He considered her the equivalent of a union representative.  And "union" was a dirty word in Keith's book.

Keith doesn’t like women who stand up for themselves – or their professions.  You’re supposed to worship at the altar of what he wants and thinks best (which mostly meant shipping jobs in Asheboro to El Salvador and Honduras - for the cheap labor - under the pretense of cooperating with a global economy).  God knows, you're NEVER supposed to question anything or talk back!  Meanwhile the reporters at the Courier Tribune put down their pens.

And that, boys and girls, is how how small towns die.

Moving on, Bob continues with a (predictable) riff on teamwork . . . and how nurses constantly reassess what they do to improve patient outcomes. 

It’s true enough, but in truth, in the hospital setting, most of the re-assessing takes place over the nurses’ heads and without a lot of their input . . . by people who wear suits instead of scrubs – and who are practiced at bean-counting . . . with changes simply imposed upon the nurses.  In fact, in recent years, nurses (like doctors) have been forced to adapt to a number of measures imposed upon them . . . most notably Electronic Medical Records (EMR) systems . . . without a lot of good evidence that these things improved outcomes.

They certainly don’t help productivity.  Any clinician who has waited on a computer to acknowledge a critically-ill newborn’s existence knows that. 

In classic form, Bob gets off a cheap shot at doctors – without admitting that he’s talking about doctors – by alluding to turf wars and those who might get defensive about their work.

In stark contrast to physicians, Bob doesn't know squat about having every aspect of your work-day placed under a microscope for people-who-don't-know-squat-about-what-you-do to nit-pick over, so I could tell him where to put that cheap shot.

But in Bob’s world, doctors are always supposed to kowtow to the (mostly economic) "best interests" of the hospital and/or the hospital owned practices.  Independence, autonomy, and dissentive opinions are considered “disruptive” and must be stomped out.  They don't "fit in".

And now, we reach the real kicker for me in this entire editorial effort:

“(Nurses) respect policies and rules, but when one gets in the way of doing what a patient needs, nurses seem to find ways to get the job done first and change the rules later.”

I would submit that this is EXACTLY what the LDRP charge nurse was doing on that fateful night in January 1998, when she went up the "chain-of-command" and called the ONE DOCTOR on staff who was both (1) authorized by her position as Chair of the hospital's Perinatal Committee to deal with the problem at hand, and (2) brave enough to buck the archaic/misogynistic turf system Bob Morrison had in place, and challenge a Cone-owned physician whose arrogance and ignorance was doing more harm than good.

On that night, both the nurse and the Pediatrician she called in tried to respect hospital policies and rules, but when those policies and rules got in the way of providing proper, life-saving care to a desperately-ill newborn being mis-managed by her attending physician (a physician that Bob Morrison, endeavoring to please the powers-that-be at Cone Hospital, marketed to an unsuspecting public as having skills & training he did not possess) . . . the nurse and the Pediatrician decided to find a way to help the baby . . . and change the rules later.

Indeed, the Pediatrician filed a complaint with hospital peer review the next morning.

Every policy that the N.C. Medical Board and Joint Commission has ever published states very plainly that physicians (or nurses) who raise concerns about quality-of-care, or report “sentinel events” should not suffer retaliation for doing so.

But Bob Morrison (and his left-hand-man-ultimate-successor, Steve Eblin) didn’t get that memo.  And the Pediatrician was out of a job just two weeks later.

Every dream she ever had was destroyed.

Not only did the nurses who cared for children lose their best champion and advocate, they got the very clear message that if anyone bucked Bob’s system, they did so at their own peril.

Bob ruled his nurses by fear.

The rest is history – a history that most of the good people of Asheboro still don’t have a good handle on because the “journalists” over at the Courier Tribune have never cared to tell the story in any way that didn’t cover Bob Morrison’s lying tail.

Sixteen years later, in 2014, in the wake of the farcical resolution to two lawsuits (Attention Ray Criscoe: WHEN IT COMES TO WHO WAS LYING IN THAT CLUSTER-SCREW, RANDOLPH HOSPITAL DID THE RUNNING . . . AND THE PAYING . . . NOT TO MENTION THE DEFRAUDING), and President Obama’s pathetic/misguided attempt at healthcare “reform”, the home-grown Pediatrician is still waiting for someone to enforce the rules we did have at the time . . . and change the ones that didn’t work in 1998 - and still don’t work now.

It’s galling that this Board-certified Pediatrician . . . unjustly professionally eviscerated and legally-screwed by Bob Morrison and Steve Eblin and their gang of in-bred mill-town "rights" . . . BECAUSE she did the right thing by a patient . . . has to read self-serving tripe like this in her “hometown” newspaper.

Bob Morrison waxing poetic on anyone’s code of ethics . . . especially those of the American Nurses Association . . . is personally offensive to me.

Sayeth Bob, “In order to be trusted, one must be trustworthy. That requires consistent integrity in relationships with others – supporting them in making their own decisions and never trying to mislead or trick them for personal gain.”

That is, unless you’re Bob Morrison, and you don’t want your original Pediatrician . . . born and raised and completely educated within an hour of Asheboro . . . breaking off from your hospital-owned practice . . . taking her patients with her . . . and competing with you.  Nope.  You’ve got to do everything you can to bully her into shutting up and forcing her OUT.  It doesn’t matter what you told the community or your Board of Directors about your noble intentions to recruit and retain physicians.  It doesn’t matter what the agreements that you signed with the Federal and state governments stated in black and white.  It doesn’t matter what you told the doctor when you enticed her home with promises of “partnership” and medical autonomy . . . and your nurses . . . that you would have their backs as they worked to change things for children for the better.  

If no one in Raleigh or Washington is overseeing anything, and your buddies at the Courthouse . . . and on the City Council/County Commissioners . . . will crane their necks far enough looking the other way while you ply your tricks . . . you can do whatever you want to whomever you want.

You can lie, you can cheat and you can steal . . . AND then collect your bonuses . . . all the way to a phat retirement. And you can do it under the cover of the law – because employment law in North Carolina lags 20 years behind what is actually going on in medicine.

It doesn’t hurt that medical peer review is a joke.  Reform didn’t fix it.  

And I ask you, if doctors cannot expect proper protection from hospital executives behaving badly, how much hope do you think your average nurse has?

The rest of Bob’s editorial is what we have come to expect – as he uses the nobility of a profession he manhandled for most of his professional life – to propagate his personal view of himself and his populist politics.  The rule of the mob outweighs the rights of the few.

But Bob Morrison lecturing anyone on integrity and honesty and tolerance and ethics and homespun values is absolutely ludicrous in light of the way he conducted himself during his tenure at Randolph Hospital.

In terms of professional standards and personal integrity, nurses do indeed light the way for the rest of us.  Alas, Bob’s lamp has always been dim, and his vision limited.

Speaking as someone who did answer a terrified nurse’s call sixteen years ago . . . someone who put EVERYTHING on the line to help a dying newborn baby girl (who is now a gorgeous and accomplished young woman – all thanks to the courage of one nurse making a call Bob would have never had her make - except that he was IN BED at the time) . . . someone who DID walk the walk and DID talk the talk . . . someone who, in the face of threats to her livelihood, had the stones to tell Bob Morrison what he most decidedly did not want to hear . . . someone who fought back with what little resources she had when Bob Morrison and his minions did her wrong . . . this man is not fit to wish the greenest nurse on the night shift a “Happy Nurses’ Day!”.

Were she still alive, Robert Morrison would not be fit to wipe my Grandmother’s gore-stained shoes.  She was a nurse’s aide at Pungo (in Belhaven) for years.  She birthed a (first-grade/KG/Special-Ed) teacher and lived long enough to see her eldest grandchild graduate from medical school and finish a residency in Pediatrics.

I am grateful she did not live to see what Bob did to me.

On this Mother's Day, this post is dedicated to my Mother (the teacher) and my Grandmother (the nurse) . . . who taught me everything I needed to know about putting my patients first . . . in spite of the Bob Morrisons - and Keith Criscos - of this world.

And the Courier Tribune needs to STOP giving this grinning partisan hypocritical cretin a forum.

5/13/2014 Addendum:  I was taught not to speak ill of the dead.  Good thing this post went up on Sunday evening.  And it will STAY up - if only because someone in Asheboro needs to tell the truth if the place is ever going to have any chance of breaking the curse that was laid upon it when the town's "rights" turned their backs on small town values, and decided to make those who didn't get the memo invisible.  

Sunday, December 01, 2013

The Courier Tribune Strikes Again: When "Guest" Columnists Overstay Their Welcome (Subtitled: Give Bob Morrison A Forum And He Will Demonstrate Why Asheboro "Died")

Just when I think I'm out, they draw me back in . . . 

I have read a lot of garbage in Asheboro’s Courier Tribune over the last nearly 20 years. But a “guest opinion” column written by Robert Morrison, the “colorful” (as dubbed by all the “right people”) former CEO of Randolph Hospital, and published on the day after Thanksgiving, pretty much sits at the top of the stinking heap. 

I am posting this response on Facebook, and tagging Judge Rob Wilkins, because Morrison’s “opinion” (containing a not-so-veiled, uber-despicable swipe at Rob) deserves a forceful response.  But it won’t get one at that sorry excuse for a newspaper (because free speech is only a right for a "right person" like Bob Morrison).  So it will get one here.
  
As a life-long “invisible” citizen/taxpayer of Asheboro/Randolph County – and longtime critic of the Courier’s peculiar brand of “journalism”, my letters-to-the-Editor are NEVER published, and I have long been banned from commenting on their stories online.  You see, the story of what happened to me in Asheboro . . .   years ago, as a home-grown Board-certified Pediatrician recruited home to public service . . . on Bob Morrison’s watch and under his direction (a story our newspaper’s Editor/Publisher know about but have REFUSED to fully/truthfully tell), is EMBARRASSING to many of Asheboro’s powers-that-be.  These “leaders” of a now-dying mill town tightly circled the wagons around Bob Morrison when he was wrong – when he lied – when he cheated – when he stole.  It's been a way-of-life in Asheboro for a very long time - when it comes to the rules of any game, some people are just more "equal" than others.  And the City Fathers can't figure out why the town is "dying" now - why the Lord God is not answering their prayers for community grace and redemption.  

Ergo, I cannot now let these “editorials” (in which Bob basks in his own tolerance and moral superiority – lecturing the rest of us on “integrity” and “equality”) pass in silence – particularly not when he attacks a friend.

And Judge Rob Wilkins is my friend.  He is my friend because he is a man of conviction and character who, over the last couple of years (we’ve only known each other that long), has managed (simply by demonstrating, on a daily basis, the strength of that conviction and character) to restore a very small portion of the faith I long-ago lost in our local legal system . . . a system that is just as broken and corrupt as my own once-noble profession – a profession brought low by the likes of Bob Morrison – Asheboro’s own $700,000  man.

Bob’s rambling editorial is not worth a word-for-word reprint (if this is what passes for intellectualism in Asheboro, the town is truly doomed), but I am going to hit the highlights – and I must begin by stating why Bob Morrison is the LAST person in Asheboro who should be lecturing any of the rest of us on integrity – or the pitfalls/evils of subterfuge, and deception.  

Then, we will get to what Bob said about the Judge.

Bob starts off by talking about being thankful for this nation and the opportunities it provides. But then he states his “pride” in our nation is in need of repair (he actually sounds a lot like Michelle Obama).  I would remind Bob that pride is one of the seven deadly sins, and it generally comes before a big fall.
  
I know.  I was very proud of the Pediatric practice I built in Asheboro – after taking advantage of the opportunity my government provided – to repay my medical school loans for service (to the “under-served” in a “non-profit” setting).  The goal of the National Health Service Corps was for me to come home and stay home (even if I wound up transitioning into private practice when my obligation was done).  And, after YEARS of hard work/paying my dues, that's what I wanted to do - I wanted to live and work amongst my family and friends.  As a child, I'd had a HORRIBLE surgical outcome at Randolph, and I didn't want that to happen to anyone else. 

(If anyone is wondering, when I was five years old. an Asheoro/Randolph Hospital Family Practitioner MUTILATED my throat and soft palate when he took my tonsils out - to the point that my soft palate had to be reconstructed when I was in college.  Years later, while employed by the hospital, I gave Randolph another chance - this time with sinus surgery - only to have a local ENT bore a hole into my face/skull that, according to experts at NC Baptist Hospital, was placed in the WRONG location.  This also had to be surgically corrected - at least, inasmuch as it could be.  For the record, my family and I did not sue the physicians/hospital in either instance - for all that suing Randolph Hospital for what they would later do to me/my practice garnered me the local reputation of being a litigious witch - as opposed to a dedicated/deeply hurt physician done horribly wrong - insult piled upon injury.)

I was recruited home to “clean up” Pediatrics.  But, over time, my relationship with management deteriorated because Bob Morrison did not want to do what was necessary to back his Pediatricians up in his small town hospital’s stupid turf wars.  In Asheboro, as is the case with many (if not most) small-town hospitals in North Carolina, the doctors who take care of children at their sickest are at the absolute BOTTOM of the medico-political totem pole - we're there to be the OB's and surgeon's and ED docs' whipping-boys-and-girls . . . treated little better than the lowliest medical student.  We're damned-well supposed to know/stay in our place - or else.  We can be sued for up to 18 years after we see/treat a child, but we're supposed to swallow all the short-sighted cost-cutting measures (like putting sick children on the same wards as newborn infants . . . or closing Pediatric wards altogether . . . or kicking newborns out of the hospital in 24 hours) . . . and staff clinic hours/endure call-loads that the Internal Medicine and Family Practitioners routinely SNEER at (their "quality of life" being so much more important than ours) . . . while being paid NOTHING for our extra time.  We're heroes for a day when we clean up the messes others make - then we go right back to being nobodies/pawns.  If we dare say "boo!" to the layer-upon-layers of overpaid suit and lawyers (people with a fraction of our education/trainingdictating the conditions under which we work, we're thrown out with the trash - so they can bring in the next gullible newbie to abuse. 

And make no mistake, Bob Morrison was at the front of all of these despicable trends in which community hospitals/their executives "owned" Pediatricians and could bully them into submission. His top priorities, you see, were not about patient care. They were not about public service.  Bob's priorities were all about appearances and money - to feed his bonuses and his retirement parachute.  My patients were cattle to the "volume guy" - assets to be driven in and out of the hospital/office as much as possible.  And because his priorities did not mesh with those of the well-meaning Federal program that recruited me home, Bob Morrison ultimately found it cumbersome to play by the government’s rules.  So Bob/his lawyers found a way to cheat . . . while the government I served ignored its own mandates and looked the other way – as the government often does. The government was supposed to "help" the community by recruiting and retaining Pediatricians to Asheboro/Randolph County.  It was supposed to help me get a leg up on getting a practice established.  Alas, thanks to Bob Morrison, and no checks or balances,  I have lived the long-ago warning of Ronald Reagan:  “The most terrifying words in the English language are: I’m from the government and I’m here to help.”

On the flip side, the government TOTALLY worked for Bob Morrison.  He has made a very good living for himself under the cover of public service . . . lying, bullying, scheming and cheating other people out of the fruits of their hard work – and their dreams.  His faith is in government is based in the subterfuge and deception he got away with when he should have been fired, or gone to jail. That, and the great big phat pile of money he's wallowing in now - courtesy of an uninformed populace (thank you, Courier Tribune).

Like most good Democrats (no offense intended to my friends who are truly good Democrats – as opposed to pompous impostors – like Bob – who spent the majority of his professional life living like the worst stereotypical-good-ole-boy-fat-cat Republican . . . from the ridiculously-inflated salary he collected while employed by small-town “non-profit” hospital . . . to the way he used clueless mill-town leaders to shield himself from accountability for his lies and subterfuge . . . to the way he has selectively rallied his neighbors to pave Viewmont Road only just past his cul-de-sac), Bob puts all of his faith in the government – a government guided by a supposedly benevolent majority.  His premise (as best I can tell) is that in democratic societies, the majority tends to rally towards noble goals in times of great crisis – and is capable of great things.

DUH. 

Bob moves on.  But along came Hitler.  The majority is not always benevolent.  Might is not always right. Government is not always good. (Another DUH).  Groups of people are made scapegoats – enemies of the state.  Opposition to what the majority wants must be ridiculed, humiliated, marginalized and destroyed (insert obligatory Star Trek Borg reference:  “Resistance is futile”). 

Bob says this is America today.  And I agree. 

But my agreement comes from the vantage point of someone who was used, abused, betrayed and abandoned by her government (in large part to cover/save Bob’s lying tail) . . . someone who has spoken a lot of truth to power (Asheboro’s powers-that-be didn’t listen) . . . someone who (for the sin of telling that truth) has been ridiculed/humiliated/marginalized/but-not-quite-destroyed . . . someone who has real reason/just cause to never, ever trust/believe the government again.

Bob spends quite a bit of time waxing poetic about pride and the public trust – from the space program (he had to have a Kennedy reference) to the building of the Interstate Highway system and the Hoover Dam – the public had to trust the government for these things to be successful.
    
We've come to the paragraph in Bob’s op-ed that I’m going to quote:  “Some steps towards building national pride would be to replace deception, partial truth, and manipulation of government processes that are the current norm with integrity, openness and equal application of laws and standards to all of us.  Integrity requires much more than not telling lies.  It requires intentionally communicating the whole truth; a task that is difficult when the subjects are laden with emotion.  Integrity also requires listening to learn what we do not know and to understand the perspectives of others.  In our discussions of social and political issues, we must hold ourselves to those standards.  Only then will be able to hold our leaders to them too.”

I would suggest that we START with the author of this editorial (who could have used an editor).  Bob made his bones in Asheboro doing all of the things he tells the rest of us to eschew.  Years ago, in his role as CEO of “non-profit” Randolph Hospital, noble Bob Morrison, “public servant”/community “leader”, put a home-grown Pediatrician in the position of choosing between her job/every-dream-she-ever-had and a dying newborn baby’s life.   If that doctor had done what Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin (Bob’s left hand man – now CEO) would have had her do . . . and caved into their threats (to “shut up” or else about problems at in Pediatric care/physician behavior at Randolph Hospital), she would have hung up on a terrified nurse in the middle of that night, rolled over, gone back to sleep and let a newborn baby die.

Bob rewarded that doctor’s very real courage and integrity by firing her two weeks later.  But he didn’t just fire her.  He SPAT on the spirit and intent of the government program that brought her home – and manipulated her contract in a fashion that served to destroy her practice – so his “non-profit” hospital could quickly/quietly absorb it – and keep “the business” as its own.  Bob lied to everyone about what he was doing – and why.  The doctor’s patients were his “property” – no matter what the agreement the hospital had made with the government said. 

When the doctor fought back (nobody talks back in Asheboro) – and demanded accountability, light and air, Bob sued that doctor for telling the truth to the government she served.  He thought she would run.  She didn’t.  Of course, the government still did nothing to police its own program, and the doctor had to fight her battle alone.  

But the point is, what Bob and his flunkies did was wrong, and she fought back.  And there are doctors in private practice in Asheboro today who should be on their knees thanking her that she did.
  
When Bob Morrison had to tuck tail and run from his lawsuit (it’s called a SLAPP suit – Google it) . . . because the doctor had been telling the truth all along . . . Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin and Randolph Hospital’s lawyers swindled the Pediatrician out of a fair and equitable settlement . . . a settlement that accurately reflected the damage done to her life and career . . . a settlement that might have brought her home/restored her practice and her dream.  They did it by boldly lying about the confidentiality of public records in discovery responses – and withholding them from the Court.  Now, most ordinary folk would call that subterfuge and deception.  But in Bob’s mind, the end (saving the hospital money) justifying the means (cheating the doctor – defrauding the taxpayer – and betraying the public trust).  And Bob Morrison’s oh-so-noble friends – sitting on boards and in local government let him get away with it (to this day, many of them still pretend that they were not involved or didn’t know what was going on).  Ultimately, so did the Court - in what was clearly a fixed game - elevating a local prosecutor's "discretion" over the spirit and intent of Federal programs - and the law.  I BEGGED Garland Yates to refer the case out for the proper investigation it never got.  But the intent and spirit of the law did not matter – it was all buried by local law enforcement - and our District Attorney’s “discretion” . . . lifting Bob Morrison above the law’s grasp.

That same winking and nodding . . . that same “discretion” . . .  kept the DA’s brother from being arrested and prosecuted for stealing political signs last year. Lady Justice has had her blindfold off and her skirts up in Asheboro for a long time.  So it’s kinda hard to take Bob’s lectures now on everyone being equal under the law.

Moving on, as he moved closer to retirement, Bob’s salary, as CEO of a small-town hospital, jumped into the stratosphere.  His salary alone could have paid the salaries of three full-time physicians – or a number of nurses/PA’s (please tell me, in terms of relative value to the community, was Bob going to get out of bed and see your sick child/parent/sibling/loved one in the middle of the night?).
  
Now Bob writes drivel for the Courier Tribune – producing tripe that reads like Bob Dylan on a really bad acid trip.

Bob Morrison does not now get to lecture me on integrity – or the importance of trusting the government to do the right thing now.  He most assuredly does not get to do what he did next in the almost indecipherable/barely-readable mish-mash the Courier calls an “editorial”:

Bob Morrison compared Judge Rob Wilkins (in addition to being a practiced liar, Bob is also a coward, so he didn’t actually use Rob’s name) to Catholic priests who molested children, and an FBI director who spied on civil rights leaders. 
    
What merited this ridiculous leap of hyperbole, you ask?

Why, Judge Rob Wilkins had the audacity to travel to Washington D.C. during the government shutdown, and, while he was there, impulsively help remove barricades from in front of a national monument honoring our WWII veterans - barricades that blocked the path of said veterans to the shrine.  Rob (a Coast Guard veteran himself) had the personal courage of conviction to stand up for what he knew to be right when our government was wrong and broken and not serving the very citizens who fought and bled on fields of battle – citizens who-by-their-sacrifices purchased Bob Morrison’s very right to cast aspersions on his political enemies (and suggest that they be arrested/disciplined) . . .

 . . . because Bob Morrison is Ray Criscoe’s personal political tool in Randolph County – an untouchable, uber-liberal mouthpiece for a frustrated newspaper editor who lives/works in a deeply-red county, and who doesn’t dare say what he wants to say himself – lest he find himself pounding the pavement for another job . . . because even bad newspapers must have standards-of-conduct, and lines you don’t cross.

For Bob's enlightenment, I'm going to point out that the difference between Rob Wilkins' act of civil disobedience in Washington and that of the "Moral Monday" demonstrators in Raleigh (meriting arrest), is that Rob did NOTHING to disrupt the process of government because the government was SHUT DOWN.  It wasn't working (I would argue that it doesn't work when it's up and running).  He wasn't standing at government's door with his hand out.  He was letting people who had already paid their fair share IN.

I believe that most of the citizens of Randolph County believe in the things that Rob Wilkins believes in.  They understand that our free speech has NEVER been “free”.  And they believe that’s Rob’s small, relatively tame act of civil disobedience was the right thing to do – and the right time to do it.

I want to reiterate again that Bob Morrison compared Judge Rob Wilkins to a pedophile – ironically, in an “editorial” in which he bemoaned vilifying/attacking others for political gain.  It fits the "progressive" political MO and leaves me wondering WHO is really behind Morrison’s attack on Rob Wilkins?

In his “editorial”, Bob seems to completely miss the point that this nation was founded by people who took issue with a tyrannical/out-of-control/tax-and-spend government . . . a government that, in my humble opinion, is a whole lot like the Federal government we have now . . . the Democratically-controlled, horribly-inefficient, criminally-incompetent, uber-corrupt, money-sucking, behemoth-pitting-citizen-against-citizen that Robert Morrison would have us blindly support without anyone whimpering a single weak objection.  We’re all supposed to hold hands and sing Kumbaya when we see things that are wrong or stupid.  If something doesn’t work or do what it’s supposed to do, we are to keep our mouths shut and go along to get along (as Bob would have had me do when a Cone-owned neonatologist-wannabe - marketed by Bob's team as having experience/skills he did not possess - nearly killed a critically-ill newborn baby with his arrogance and ignorance).  We’re all supposed to be complacent zombies sucking at the teat of the Daddy-state.  And if we're not sucking, we're supposed to keep shoveling our hard-earned money into a system that does not, in fact, treat all of us fairly or equally - or reward our individual hard work/sacrifice.

For all of his blather about American pride and trust, Bob seems to be advocating a distinctly un-American society without checks, balances, conscientious/peaceful dissent, personal responsibility or individual moral compasses . . . moral compasses like those of Rob Wilkins . . .

. . . moral compasses like mine.
  
I’m going to close this rebuttal with the observation that Bob Morrison supported Obamacare (the ACA).  According to Bob, it was going to be the answer to all of our problems in healthcare.  We are to believe the same IRS that would not hold Bob accountable for the lying and subterfuge that drove a young Pediatrician out-of-Asheboro for doing the right thing by a patient, is going to police medicine from top to bottom.  Never mind that Bob’s Federal government can’t even get a website to work properly – or guarantee the security of a citizen’s most private information when they sign up.  As for our leaders lying, unless we were already paying-out-the-yang for our health insurance – we can’t keep it – any more than we can keep our doctors.  In North Carolina alone, billions of dollars have been wasted in various Medicaid scams – but Bob wants to expand it . . . we’re supposed to pile millions more patients on fewer and fewer providers and expect fraud/abuse not to skyrocket?  I will note that Obamacare only threw more money at the National Health Services Corps (the program I served while in Asheboro), whose mission and intent was made a mockery of by the lying and cheating of Bob Morrison/Steve Eblin.  Nothing about the oversight of the NHSC (particularly as it pertained to protecting provider participants – all increasingly in shortage) was reformed or fixed.  Bob no doubt supported the ACA because it would drive clinicians into total subservience to lawyers and MBA’s (or out of medicine completely), and rain down perpetual government money on a small mill-town community hospital that is struggling . . . laying off employees because the hospital is still paying (dearly) for Bob’s ridiculous salary and golden parachute.

Bob bled this town/Randolph Hospital dry . . . all the way to a phat retirement.  And I submit that his end did not justify the means.  So once again, his lectures, dripping in political partisanship and wrapped in the Trojan Horse of what a Teflon-coated liar thinks is best, fall flat. 

This isn’t about politics – or what party you’re in.  This is about simple right and wrong. If you actually  believe that he ever had an original thought (and that Steve Eblin wasn't the power behind the throne all alongBob Morrison has been wrong – about a lot of things – for a very long time.   And because he's been wrong, he and those like him brought Asheboro down.  We're still trying to get back up.

But Bob is set and he can fiddle. 

Here’s my suggestion:  I am posting this on Facebook.  If anyone reading this truly is Rob Wilkin’s friend – might I suggest that you (1) LIKE this post, (2) SHARE this post, and (3) write the Courier.  Tell them to STOP printing this garbage.  Tell them that this time they’ve gone too far.  Demand that they END Bob Morrison’s tenure as a “guest columnist”.  Tell Mr. “Colorful” to pack his poison-laced crayons and leave the otherwise empty stage he will apparently say anything to stay on.  Tell them that we-the-People of Randolph County want a newspaper that reports the news . . . that actually investigates . . . that treats people and stories fairly/equally . . . that does not ban anyone from commenting online . . . that truly offers/respects all points of view . . . that doesn’t hide the town’s ugly because it’s ugly . . . and that does not suppress criticism of said ugly.  Speak to their bottom line.  Tell our warped version of “the fourth estate” that subscriptions will be quickly cancelled if the editor/publisher do not soon change the way they practice their craft.  Remind them that they are supposed to speak for the people – not the powerful . . . that their pens and keyboards are supposed to stand for right, not might. 
  
And finally, put yourself in my shoes – in my family’s shoes.  Put yourselves in the shoes of the parents of the baby whose life I defied Bob Morrison and Steven Eblin to save.  That baby survived her first horrifying night and very difficult beginnings, and has grown into a lovely young woman – whose baptism I was honored to recently attend at First Baptist Church.  So I’m also asking you to write Randolph Hospital.  Tell Steve Eblin that what he and Bob Morrison did all those years ago was WRONG.  Tell them it’s time to finally admit what most everyone knows, and make amends.  

If you’re really disturbed by my story, write legislators and TV stations, and ask them,”What the hell?!?”.  Can this really be America?

Judge Rob Wilkins – and his wife Cindy - became my friends because they did not judge me based on Courthouse snickerings – courtesy of people with ulterior motives, grudges and personal agendas (like keeping a very ugly story – and their roles in it - buried). Rob took the time to get to know me.  He spoke to mutual friends.  He read my blog – not just the stuff I wrote (without him asking) supporting his re-election.  He listened.  Even though, because of his position, he couldn’t do a thing to help me, it was clear he CARED about how horribly his system had let me down.  He felt my disappointment and pain and betrayal on a personal level. I sincerely believe that if someone like Rob had been sitting in other chairs back in the day, my case – and life – might have had a different outcome. Rob Wilkins is his own man. He is a good man.  He cares about truth.  He cares about justice.  It’s not just lip service.  In other words, Rob embodies everything a decent human being – and citizen – and judge – should be. And mealy-mouthed, two-faced, double-talking, back-stabbing, dream-killing Bob Morrison isn’t fit to wash his motorcycle.

Nothing is going to change in this town/county until people-of-conscience stop being afraid of their shadows and stand together and speak out about the things and people that put this town on the map as one of the fastest-dying-towns in America.

And again, civic death and decay .  . . to the point that we're soon going to be a regional trash dump . . . is Bob “Mr. Colorful” Morrison’s real legacy to Asheboro. He's one of the people that put us in the hole.  It’s not all that progressive.  And, as an American, it’s nothing to be proud of.