Ousted CEO's attorney returns fire on WellStar
by Jon Gillooly
jgillooly@mdjonline.com
April 09, 2011 12:00 AM | 13018 views | 32 32 comments | 37 37 recommendations | email to a friend | print
In attorney Ben Mathis’ rebuttal to WellStar’s claims one week ago today — in which Dr. Gregory Simone, above, was said to be engaged in a ‘special relationship’ with former WellStar executive vice president and general counsel Bonnie Wilson that was ‘damaging’ to WellStar’s image — Simone is described as ‘one of the most decent, honest, proper, thoughtful, and caring people to ever walk the face of this planet.’<br>Staff/File
In attorney Ben Mathis’ rebuttal to WellStar’s claims one week ago today — in which Dr. Gregory Simone, above, was said to be engaged in a ‘special relationship’ with former WellStar executive vice president and general counsel Bonnie Wilson that was ‘damaging’ to WellStar’s image — Simone is described as ‘one of the most decent, honest, proper, thoughtful, and caring people to ever walk the face of this planet.’
Staff/File
slideshow
The attorney for former WellStar CEO Dr. Greg Simone said in a Friday letter that certain health system executives have fabricated events and taken others out of context in an effort to smear Simone and divert attention from their own actions.

On April 1, WellStar attorney Sharon Morgan of Elarbee, Thompson, Sapp & Wilson sent Simone a four-page letter detailing why WellStar’s Board of Trustees fired him on Sept. 2.

Simone’s attorney, Ben Mathis, responded in a six-page letter dated Friday, warning her that she, as well as those who instigated the April 1 letter, have subjected themselves to a possible lawsuit.

In his letter to Morgan, a copy of which was obtained by the Journal, Mathis accuses her of engaging in “a high-tech character assassination” against Simone and Bonnie Wilson, who was also fired last year from her position as executive vice president and general counsel for WellStar.

Morgan’s letter attacking Simone and Wilson, Mathis said, was written only for the media, and is nothing more than “a disingenuous attempt to string together unrelated events and combine them with false statements and half-truths to paint Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson in an entirely false light.”

Responding to Mathis, WellStar spokeswomen Michelle Robinson said: “Clearly, Greg Simone is a very disgruntled former employee who is attempting to rewrite history. It is unfortunate that he continues to disparage an organization that he claims to hold in such high regard and its hardworking leadership team and volunteer Trustees. The April 1st letter to him accurately set out the basis for his termination. His continued selfish attacks again demonstrate that the WellStar Board of Trustees made the right decision, based on the facts, and it stands by that decision. Thus, we have moved on.”

In her April 1 letter to Simone, Morgan attempts to portray that Simone had a “special relationship” with Wilson, one where they sent each other coded messages and dined alone together, citing two instances, one at a Buckhead restaurant and one at a Marietta restaurant.

But Mathis said Morgan carefully omits in her letter who else was present at the Buckhead restaurant on the night in question. Also present were Interim CEO Jim Budzinski and other WellStar employees, he said.

“There was no attempt to ‘hide’ this business dinner,” Mathis writes. “It is inconceivable that you would characterize a dinner attended by Jim Budzinski as a business function, but a dinner attended by the CEO as a ‘late night private dinner for two,’ even though two WellStar teams had the same dinner in the same restaurant for the same purpose at the same time.”

The other example Morgan cites in her letter was a dinner Simone and Wilson had last summer at a restaurant near the Marietta Conference Center, which Mathis said immediately followed a senior staff meeting there.

“It was not ‘out of the way’ as you falsely imply, but at a family place frequented by people who knew Dr. Simone and by WellStar employees. It is ludicrous to suggest that they would have eaten there to avoid being observed,” Mathis wrote.

Mathis goes on to write that after the MDJ published Morgan’s letter in last Saturday’s newspaper, a WellStar employee who was present at the Mexican restaurant the night in question told him she was appalled that Morgan characterized the event as somehow improper.

“She also was appalled that no one in senior leadership at WellStar ever asked her to describe what actually occurred. Apparently, they relied entirely on a hearsay version because no one really wanted to know what actually happened,” Mathis said.

“Moreover … it is unbelievable that a professional woman like yourself could claim that two business dinners between senior executives somehow show ‘a special relationship,’” Mathis wrote.

Another tactic Morgan used in her letter to paint the picture of a special relationship was describing how Simone referred to Wilson as a “neutron girl,” because just as a neutron holds together an atom, so too did Wilson help to hold together WellStar.

“This is typical of your out-of-context smear,” Mathis said. “It is difficult to believe that you really think that it is wrong that the CEO thought the general counsel, perhaps the most important executive position in a medical organization where every issue has a legal implication, was in his view, at times, the proverbial ‘glue’ that held together the organization. Again, as a professional woman, you know that, if the general counsel were male, this allegation would never have been made.”

Likewise, the allegation that Wilson had veto power over decisions at WellStar is absurd, Mathis said. If that were the case, why isn’t there a record of the Board of Trustees interceding or issuing some type of warning, he asked.

Then there is the matter of Simone texting or “pinning” messages to Wilson. Mathis said it is well known that Simone regularly communicated by text, email, and pin with a number of employees.

In an effort to “‘catch up’ with the newfangled way of shorthand communication,” Simone had printed out a list of commonly used text abbreviations and used them as a humorous way to show he had “caught up,” Mathis wrote.

The truth is Simone and Wilson never socialized outside of WellStar, unlike Jim Budzinski and WellStar HR director David Anderson, who went on mountain vacations together, went on fishing trips together, and who attend Fox Theatre plays together, Mathis noted.

“Dr. Simone’s and Ms. Wilson’s interaction, on the other hand, was purely business. Again, if a fair or independent review of the situation had been conducted, there would be a record of what all of the senior staff and others with actual knowledge really thought. Apparently, the individuals behind Dr. Simone’s termination were not interested in such a review because it would have impeded their objective of highjacking WellStar for their benefit and that of their friends. If you had undertaken such an effort, as I believe a good counselor should have advised the Board to have done, then those really behind this decision would be accountable for the veracity of these claims,” his letter states.

Mathis said he wants to be clear that his references to WellStar are not directed at the hundreds of employees who helped build the organization into a world-class integrated health care system.

“As is now becoming clear, however, a small group of officers and certain Trustees truly have undertaken a plan to wrest control of WellStar and dismantle the most effective executive team in its history,” he said. “Interestingly, none of these individuals are a physician, and none have ever before operated a health care system, much less one the size of WellStar. They appear to be motivated to stop the reforms instituted by Dr. Simone that they apparently found threatening to them and their friends.”

On March 21, just months after the terminations of Simone and Wilson, Budzinski and Anderson fired Dr. Richard Lopes, president of the WellStar Medical Group, which is in charge of the system’s 350 physicians, and Ron Strachan, former WellStar senior vice president and chief information officer. Moreover, on March 29, WellStar announced that Susan Thompson, WellStar’s assistant vice president of government and community affairs, had resigned immediately.

Mathis said it is significant that Morgan avoids mentioning in her letter the “undeniable truth” that WellStar had no cause for any of these terminations.

“These terminations collectively will result in approximately $5 million dollars of severance,” he wrote. “If there was justifiable cause for any of these terminations, as WellStar now tries to falsely suggest there was with the terminations of Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson, WellStar would have exercised its contractual right to deny severance. As is so often the case in life, money speaks louder than words. Here, $5 million dollars says WellStar’s claims are false and they had no justification for any of its actions.”

Mathis said the truth is Simone’s termination came at an abruptly called and rushed, late-night meeting.

“The Trustee Board acted primarily at the behest of two Trustees and with the aiding and abetting of two WellStar executives who had much to gain with Dr. Simone’s departure. The true ‘special relationship’ at WellStar is between these two executives and two Trustees. It is this ‘special relationship’ that is behind the dismantling of the most successful executive team in the history of WellStar.”

Mathis earlier stated that the actions of the following people needed to be scrutinized: Budzinski; Anderson; Trustee Chairman Randall Bentley of the Marietta law firm Bentley, Bentley and Bentley, who has served on the board since 2005; and Trustee Tom Phillips, owner of Phillips Oil Company in Jasper, was has served on the board since 1999.

“For purposes of self-preservation by certain WellStar officials, you launched this attack only because the community and the media are questioning the direction of WellStar and the conduct of certain officials and Trustees. Your letter is nothing more than a back-peddling attempt to recast the reasons for the Trustees’ decision and deflect attention from legitimate questions regarding the actions of current interim management and certain Trustees,” Mathis wrote.

Simone was never repeatedly warned by the Board of Trustees as falsely claimed in Morgan’s letter, Mathis said. Indeed he had just received a highly favorable performance review immediately before his sudden termination.

“This performance review, approved by the Trustee Board, triggered substantial performance incentives that increased Dr. Simone’s compensation. If there had been such warnings or if there had been ‘concerns’ about Dr. Simone’s conduct, wouldn’t they have been reflected in his performance review?” Mathis asked.

Mathis said he also found it noteworthy that Morgan sent out her letter just as media outlets and others submitted numerous Open Records Act requests about the conduct of certain WellStar Trustees and officials.

“These requests focus on issues such as possible Medicare billing and compensation irregularities, benefits that Trustee members have voted to provide themselves, possible conflicts of interest in business relationships between Trustees and WellStar, and an influential Trustee’s son-in-law employed in the billing reimbursement department at WellStar,” Mathis wrote. “As reported in this week’s media, apparently the Medicare reimbursement issues involve close friends of certain Trustees and demand public accountability. These Open Records Act inquiries were filed a few days before you launched your preemptive media attack.”

Attorney Mathis’ response to WellStar claims about Dr. Simone

Dear Ms. Morgan:

I am writing in response to your letter of April 1 to Dr. Simone that you sent for publication to various media outlets. Initially, please excuse the length of this letter. As I’m sure you counted on, it takes longer to explain the truth than to commit a high-tech character assassination.

I was disappointed that you and your law firm would personally attack Dr. Gregory Simone and Ms. Bonnie Wilson. Your letter was written only for the media. Your letter is a disingenuous attempt to string together unrelated events and combine them with false statements and half-truths to paint Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson in an entirely false light. Your letter is a fictional narrative that bears no truth to the actual proper and professional relationship between Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson. Both you and those who instigated your letter have subjected yourselves to civil action.

Before addressing the allegations in. your letter, I want to emphasize that my references to “WellStar” are not directed at the many hundreds of people who have helped build the organization into a world-class integrated health care system. As is now becoming clear, however, a small group of officers and certain Trustees truly have undertaken a plan to wrest control of WellStar and dismantle the most effective executive team in its history. Interestingly, none of these individuals are a physician, and none have ever before operated a health care system, much less one the size of WellStar. They appear to be motivated to stop the reforms instituted by Dr. Simone that they apparently found threatening to them and their friends.

Indeed, it is no secret that WellStar officials have felt the intense media scrutiny over their firing four senior executives, along with an unexplained resignation last week of a fifth executive.

In reviewing your letter, it is important to first look not just at what you say, but at the facts that you carefully avoid addressing. Significantly, your letter carefully avoids conceding the undeniable truth that WellStar had no cause for any of these terminations. These terminations collectively will result in approximately 5 million dollars of severance. If there was justifiable cause for any of these terminations, as WellStar now tries to falsely suggest there was with the terminations of Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson, WellStar would have exercised its contractual right to deny severance.

As is so often the case in life, money speaks louder than words. Here, 5 million dollars says WellStar’s claims are false and they had no justification for any of its actions.

Through your letter, you created the fiction that Dr. Simone’s termination occurred not because of false allegations that he had a romantic relationship, but because he had a “special relationship.” Notably, on the night Dr. Simone was fired, it was never alleged that there was such a “special relationship.” At no time that night or since, until your letter, has anyone accused Dr. Simone of having a “special relationship” with Ms. Wilson. The issue that night was whether he was involved in a romantic relationship with her. That allegation was a lie. In fact, WellStar now admits in your letter by omission that there never was such a relationship.

This newfound claim of a “special relationship” was invented by you in your letter in a clumsy attempt to recast the real reason for the termination. You have authored a fictional narrative that Dr. Simone’s termination occurred after some fair or thoughtful investigation and formal wamings. The truth, as you know, since you were there on the night of the termination, is quite different. Dr. Simone’s termination came at an abruptly called and rushed, late-night meeting. The Trustee Board acted primarily at the behest of two Trustees and with the aiding and abetting of two WellStar executives who had much to gain with Dr. Simone’s departure. The true “special relationship” at WellStar is between these two executives and two Trustees. It is this “special relationship” that is behind the dismantling of the most successful executive team in the history of WellStar.

The termination of Dr. Simone was made in a hasty proceeding that was not conducive to a reasoned decision and was not a process that any reasonable governing board should have engaged in. The full Board and those fair-minded Trustees were not given the full story that night and have still not been given the full story to this day. There was no independent review of the allegation. There was no attempt to interview and document testimony from the many executives who worked with both Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson to see how they viewed their interaction. There was no time for reflection by Trustees to make a carefully considered determination. There was no meaningful opportunity for Dr. Simone to address this malicious and false allegation of an affair. Dr. Simone was summoned into the closed door meeting with no prior warning and asked a very few questions that he truthfully answered, in which he denied any romantic relationship. As you well know, this was the allegation that was made the night that Dr. Simone was terminated. WellStar now has completely abandoned the very reason for his termination.

Significantly, WellStar cannot deny that, prior to the night of his termination, the Trustee Board never once discussed at any meeting any of the “concerns” that you have concocted after the fact to try to use to justify Dr. Simone’s termination. The idea that this decision was the culmination of some sort of orderly counseling or investigative process is flat-out false. Instead, your letter suggests the Trustee Board acted based on a mythical “special relationship,” when that was not the reason for its actions.

For purposes of self-preservation by certain WellStar officials, you launched this attack only because the community and the media are questioning the direction of WellStar and the conduct of certain officials and Trustees. Your letter is nothing more than a back-peddling attempt to recast the reasons for the Trustees’ decision and deflect attention from legitimate questions regarding the actions of current interim management and certain Trustees.

Let me address your other allegations and remind you of the real truth, which your letter so studiously ignores. First, not only was Dr. Simone never repeatedly “warned” by the Board of Trustees as falsely claimed in your letter, but you ignore that Dr. Simone had just received a highly favorable performance review immediately before his sudden termination, This performance review, approved by the Trustee Board, triggered substantial performance incentives that increased Dr. Simone’s compensation. If there had been such warnings or if there had been “concerns” about Dr. Simone’s conduct, wouldn’t they have been reflected in his performance review?

Regarding the ridiculous allegation of sexual harassment in your letter, Ms. Wilson has categorically denied that she ever claimed that Dr. Simone harassed her or acted inappropriately. She expressly communicated tlus to Human Resource Officer David Anderson when she heard that this bogus allegation was being used against Dr. Simone. Also, she stated this in writing. Why don’t you produce her contemporaneous written denial that she never made such an allegation?

Your letter primarily contends that there was an inappropriate relationship. That allegation is completely contrived, false, and malicious. To support this groundless claim, you contend that two business dinners are evidence of wrongful conduct. However, your letter carefully omits that the first dinner was more than two years ago, at a popular Buckhead restaurant and that Jim Budzinski and other WellStar employees were present that night. There was no attempt to “hide” this business dinner. It is inconceivable that you would characterize a dinner attended by Jim Budzinski as a business function, but a dinner attended by the CEO as a “late night private dinner for two,” even though two WellStar teams had the same dinner in the same restaurant for the same purpose at the same time.

The second “dinner” cited was an early evening meal last summer at a casual restaurant near the Marietta Conference Center immediately following a senior staff meeting there. It was not “out of the way” as you falsely imply, but at a family place frequented by people who knew Dr. Simone and by WellStar employees. It is ludicrous to suggest that they would have eaten there to avoid being observed.

You also may be interested to know that, after your letter was published, I received a call from the WellStar employee who was present at the Mexican restaurant. She was appalled at your characterization. She also was appalled that no one in senior leadership at WellStar ever asked her to describe what actually occurred. Apparently, they relied entirely on a hearsay version because no one really wanted to know what actually happened. She emphasized that she never “reported” the dinner and merely mentioned in passing at work to a colleague that she had talked with Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson at the restaurant. She could not believe that someone then trumped up this innocent encounter to be something it was not. If you had cared to have conducted a fair review and interviewed her, she would have told you that she observed only that Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson were eating a brief early evening dinner in full view, sitting in the middle of the restaurant. She would have told you that she approached Dr. Simone to say hello, and that neither he nor Ms. Wilson acted in any way like they were uncomfortable or trying to hide anything. They all chatted for several minutes. She could not believe that your letter painted this simple meal following a senior staff meeting in the light that you did.

Moreover, when you look at the “dinner meetings” over the course of two years, it is unbelievable that a professional woman like yourself could claim that two business dinners between senior executives somehow show “a special relationship.”

Your letter also makes much of the fact that Dr. Simone at some time called Ms. Wilson a “neutron girl” because this long-term senior level employee had helped to hold WellStar together. This is typical of your out-of-context smear. It is difficult to believe that you really think that it is wrong that the CEO thought the General Counsel, perhaps the most important executive position in a medical organization where every issue has a legal implication, was in his view, at times, the proverbial “glue” that held together the organization. Again, as a professional woman, you know that, if the General Counsel were male, this allegation would never have been made.

Likewise, the allegation that Ms. Wilson had “veto power” over decisions at WellStar is so absurd as to be comical. If this really had been the case, there would certainly be some record of the Trustee Board interceding or issuing some type of warning to either Dr. Simone or Ms. Wilson. Of course, there is no record of any concem because no such concem was ever expressed. Again, this is another invention by you of an issue that never was.

Your letter also is filled with vague innuendo and suggestions that “others” witnessed “one-on-one meetings.” Dr. Simone had “one-on-one meetings” with each of the executives reporting to him on a regular basis. Additionally, Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson never socialized outside of WellStar, unlike Jim Budzinski and David Anderson, who went on mountain vacations together, went on fishing trips together, and who attend Fox Theatre plays together. Dr. Simone’s and Ms. Wilson’s interaction, on the other hand, was purely business. Again, if a fair or independent review of the situation had been conducted, there would be a record of what all of the senior staff and others with actual knowledge really thought. Apparently, the individuals behind Dr. Simone’s termination were not interested in such a review because it would have impeded their objective of highjacking WellStar for their benefit and that of their friends. If you had undertaken such an effort, as I believe a good counselor should have advised the Board to have done, then those really behind this decision would be accountable for the veracity of these claims.

Your letter next contends Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson “pinned” or “texted” each other on occasion. You invent a claim that they “went offline,” when that never happened. As you know, Dr. Simone regularly communicated by text, email, and pin with a number of employees. There was nothing unusual about it. Communication by these methods is universal among all of us. Executives communicate at all hours and sometimes by email, sometimes by text or pin.

Your letter further cites that Dr. Simone supposedly used a code of some kind. Again, the real truth is far different. Another senior employee at WellStar commonly used abbreviations in texts or emails to Dr. Simone. In a humorous attempt to “catch up” with the newfangled way of shorthand communication, Dr. Simone printed a list of commonly used text abbreviations off the intemet. At some point, he gave a copy to this employee and Ms. Wilson and others. He then used the abbreviations on rare occasions as bit of inside humor to show that he had “caught up.”

Your letter now maliciously takes these innocent instances completely out of context.

Those who truly know Dr. Simone know he is one of the most decent, honest, proper, thoughtful, and caring people to ever walk the face of this planet. You have attempted to slander him (and Ms. Wilson) because he used, on a few occasions, these abbreviations that do not in any way convey the kind of relationship you suggest. In retrospect, I guess Dr. Simone has now learned how malicious, petty, and dishonest some people can be when they are not interested in the real truth and are trying to hide their motives.

Significantly, although you take these isolated references out of context, what your letter doesn’t admit is that, despite poring over every single communication between the two over several years, you found absolutely nothing — nothing — in the text of any communications that suggested that there was a “special relationship.” Again, this term was never before used by WellStar and was invented by you solely to denigrate Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson.

What you have done is both outrageous and sad in light of the true facts. Why was this letter sent? It is very noteworthy that your letter came as media outlets and others submitted numerous Open Records Act requests about the conduct of certain WellStar Trustees and officials.

These requests focus on issues such as possible Medicare billing and compensation irregularities, benefits that Trustee members have voted to provide themselves, possible conflicts of interest in business relationships between Trustees and WellStar, and an influential Trustee’s son-in-law employed in the billing reimbursement department at WellStar. As reported in this week’s media, apparently the Medicare reimbursement issues involve close friends of certain Trustees and demand public accountability. These Open Records Act inquiries were filed a few days before you launched your preemptive media attack.

In the final analysis, your letter suggests that certain Trustees and interim executives at WellStar seem to fear the tidal wave of scrutiny coming their way over their governance and operations. So, you initiated this assault on Dr. Simone and Ms. Wilson to divert the attention these officials deserve. I hope and trust those with oversight authority of WellStar start to ask the hard questions and don’t accept your false claims at face value. The independent members of the Hospital Boards of Cobb, Paulding, and Douglas need to assert their oversight roles and also should be able to appoint to the WellStar Trustee Board their own representatives.

To this end, I would urge you to counsel your client that they are not some private corporation that is immune to answering to the people they serve. WellStar is a public institution. It is the people’s hospital for the community it serves. This is a community you do not live or work in, I might add.

WellStar exists only because of public funds and taxpayer-backed bonds of the Cobb, Paulding, and Douglas Hospital Authorities. The Trustees and interim leadership of WellStar should strive to live up to the obligations they owe the citizens of our community and not attempt to trash those asking appropriate questions.

I would urge you to counsel your client to govern itself accordingly.

Freeman Mathis & Gary, LLP

Benton J. Mathis Jr.

Comments
(32)
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Congrats
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April 20, 2011
I applaud you, Mr. Mathis.

Thank you for freely sharing your letter. It was very enlightening. I am grateful that someone is finally speaking up to Wellstar.

Management has employees afraid to speak up, for fear of retribution.

Wondering Bystander
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April 14, 2011
One thing that has not been reported by the MDJ is how much money Mr. Mathis is going to make by representing these former Wellstar employees. Mr. Mathis needs to come clean regarding his compensation and expense reimbursement r/t this representation. Does he charge by the hour or is he getting 30% - 40% of the 5 million that these former employees got from Wellstar? Clearly the longer Mr. Mathis prolongs this the more money he will make. He needs to publish his billing paperwork for all of us to see so that we will know where our money is going.
Novel comic
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April 14, 2011
Here's a novel idea.....Wellstar staff, the next town hall meeting belongs to you. All leadership must attend by swiping badge for proof of attendance, in order to receive your next merit increase. Wellstar staff can remind leadership of Dr. Simone's vision and values. Remind them what "World Class" means. It has apparently been forgotten. How about those Standards of Gold? You have to say what you mean and mean what you say.
VerySaddened
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April 14, 2011
I am a former Wellstar employee. Yes, a former employee. It is a disgrace that management can't manage. The individuals making Wellstar a success are it's physicians,nurses, medical staff, and the enterprise support team. All of you in management seem to be forgetting that. You have turned a fine organization into a media circus. What's next the flying trapeze ? I am embarrassed to say I ever worked there. What would my resume then look like with a gap of 10 years on it. Wellstar your dirty laundry needs to be cleaned because it stinks !
welcometo the circus
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April 13, 2011
Million dollar paybacks to Medicaid, tabloid-like letters to the public, alleged "special relationships" and billing fraud; welcome to the Wellstar Health care Circus..it would be entertaining if it was not so sad.
deservesit
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April 13, 2011
This is a perfect case of "what goes around comes around". Dr. Simone you are getting exactly what you deserve...think back on all the staff that you and your administration forced to resign without cause.
stopthemadness
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April 13, 2011
Did Wellstar's interim CEO and legal counsel think that their public display, airing their dirty laundry in the MDJ is what is damaging an already questionable reputation of Wellstar in the community at large; and has hurt the system more than Dr. Simone could have? The most important thing for patients, employees, and their families is TRUST. Wellstar has lost sight of this important aspect.
Domino Effect
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April 12, 2011
The situation at Wellstar definitely needs to be investigated and some community oversight put into place. A good beginning would be to start cleaning house from the top down. Although I'm sure most of the employees are dedicated, compassionate people it appears that management is out of control. Since when did it become acceptable for an employer to tell it's employees whom they may or may not have dinner with? Do the trips and vacations between Budzinski and Anderson constitute a "special" relationship? This situation most assuredly reeks of a struggle for power. Where does it stop Wellstar?
where's the plan?
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April 11, 2011
If we go back to last week's article and the letter that was sent to simone, the paper referenced "exhibit 1" which was "calculated plan" designed to harm WellStar.

WHAT IS THAT PLAN? I am assuming that the MDJ got that paperwork with the letter and am so curious to know what calculating was going on by the two fired ones!

Come on, MDJ, tell us more about that plan and what harm they were going to unleash on Wellstar and the community it heals. Who was involved besides Simone and Bonnie Wilson? What was the timeline? When and where and how and who?

That's got to be even racier than mexican restaurant margaritas after hours!

I remain stunned at the amount of whining that a man with time on his hands and money in his wallet (3 million, right?) can do. Why doesnt his family politely ask him to ZIP IT?
katieb5
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April 11, 2011
The state of Georgia is an "at will" work state. A person can be fired for any reason other than protected by the Constitution of the United States, i.e. race, religion, age). No reason has to be given for a termination. People get fired every day and have no legal recourse and cannot afford high-powered attorneys to cry "unfair" and threaten lawsuits. Why do these highly-compensated executives feel they are not subject to the same rules of law as everyone else?

There is no discrimination issue here. Wellstar executives, you got fired. Suck it up and get on with your lives, just as the rest of us have to do.
anonymous
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April 10, 2011
Some of you need to check your facts. WellStar is not subsidized by tax money, non-profit does not mean not making money, it means putting the revenue back in the business after operating expenses, and WellStar is a generous contributor to various community endeavors and events. None of this is new and has been going on since WellStar was created. Why would there be an oversight group for the board of trustees any more than for any other non-profit community organization?
Science 101
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April 10, 2011
Just to prevent confusion, Mr. Mathis states Neutron Girl was a nick name because Ms. Wilson helped hold WellStar together. I thought it was about the excellent nursing and physician care that holds the system together.(I confess, I have a daughter that is an RN at one of the hospitals) Dr. Simone should have considered the entire definition: "Neutrons also degrade materials; bombardment of materials with neutrons creates collision cascades that can produce point defects and dislocations in the materials. At high neutron fluences this can lead to embrittlement of metals and other materials". Seems like we witnessed a neutron bomb. Mr. Mathis I would urge you to counsel your client to read the entire definition of a word before assigning it to a person.
wellstaremptoo
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April 09, 2011
Come on, people. Figure it out. What business would pay out 5 mil if they didn't have to? If there were justifiable cause for termination they wouldn't be paying this out. How can 5 respected leaders suddenly be doing a bad job, after receiving one commendation after another? The board, Budzinkski, Anderson and all in that camp clearly have much to hide, and are willing to dish out 5 mil in public money to keep it hidden. If there is no impropriety going on, an independent audit wouldn't be a big deal, would it? After an entire career spent under these familiar roofs, I am ashamed to say I work at Wellstar. I fear the public will judge the thousands of wonderful people, who are truly here to make a difference in our community, on the basis of this trashy melodrama. An immediate and extensive independent audit of Wellstar affairs is certainly in order. I pray the public will apply the neccessary pressure to make that happen. I am so looking forward to having this dark day in Wellstar history (and by that I mean the noble histories of Cobb, Kennestone, Douglas, Paulding and Windy Hill Hospitals) a bad memory. I hope it happens soon, before I retire.
Confused in E. Cobb
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April 09, 2011
Please don't involve quantum mechanics and Mexican restaurants in this disgraceful episode.
Totallybored2011
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April 09, 2011
Please Dr. Simone- move on. Enough. Go do what you do best - practice Cardiology. Wellstar had good reasons for their actions against you.

Laser Toss
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April 09, 2011
Would you care for some crackers and cheese to go with that whine?
E L
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April 09, 2011
Mathis has just stated in this letter the exact opinion the majority of employees, myself included, have had all along. The majority of us would like Budzinski, Anderson, and the other executives they have brought from outside the region, from the same associated group, gone. Also, would like the board to be governed under the scrutiny of the outside authorities.
Big Jim
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April 09, 2011
I don't work at Wellstar nor do I know any of the individuals noted in this story. That said, it does seem the hospital system has opened itself to a very sizable lawsuit. Why would they do that? After all, this is the 21st century and both men and women are in leadership positions and do have to work together.

Next thing you know, this bunch will accuse Obama and Hillary of having one of these "special relationships"! This is ridiculous. Our money needs to be spent on healthcare.
Unsettled
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April 09, 2011
Dr. Simone

People are terminated for "unjust reasons" all of the time. As CEO, you forced resignations of a number of senior staff that were termed "resignations." You ended careers and changed lives on your whim.

Each of those professionals left the organization and moved on. You didn't like them and you exercised your right to have them resign and pay them severance.

Each of these professionals chose to move on in a dignified way and not launch a public attack of you and WellStar. You look foolish and self centered to continue a fight you can't win fueled by your ego and hatred of a few people at WellStar. GROW UP and MOVE ON while you have an ounce of dignity. You appear to be out of control with your emotions.
anonymous
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April 09, 2011
Sharon Morgans approach reminds me of the maid who cleans her clients windows with a hammer. You can see thru the windows better, but the house has been damaged. Top that off with the fact she is being paid to do it, and you have to ask just how dumb/incompetent/inexperienced are WellStar decision makers these days?



Allowing ones attorney to take such a public and brash and repeated approach to attacking ex management because they were supposedly having an affair is stupid. However, it could make sense if Wellstar is in absolute panic mode about the airing of potential financial irregularities...weak management combined with less than skilled counsel could very think the continued public attacks on Simone and the others is a good idea for some reason. If nothing else, it means Morgan gets to bill Wellstar for the effort.
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