MetroHealth Hits Back At Allegations In Whistleblower Lawsuit

Exterior of the MetroHealth campus.
[MetroHealth]

MetroHealth is pushing back against claims made against the Cleveland healthcare giant in a whistleblower lawsuit filed earlier this week, calling the allegations “unfounded and defamatory” and “patently false.”

In a Thursday statement, MetroHealth slammed lead attorney Subodh Chandra, calling the nearly 50-page legal filing an attempt to “smear and grossly mislead” people about the healthcare provider’s role in the problems at the Cuyahoga County Jail and in the dismissal of Chandra’s client, Gary Brack. The press release indicates MetroHealth plans to fight back.

“MetroHealth looks forward to the opportunity to defend itself in the lawsuit, secure in the knowledge that we are champions of all who need care,” according to the statement.

Gary Brack, filed a lawsuit late Tuesday against MetroHealth as well as MetroHealth CEO Akram Boutros, Cuyahoga County Executive Armond Budish and others for First Amendment retaliation and liability for criminal acts.

The lawsuit alleges the county and MetroHealth committed conspiracy to violate Brack’s civil rights and includes multiple counts of violations of free speech and whistleblower protections under state and federal law.

Brack was removed from his position as nursing director for the Cuyahoga County Jail, after speaking out against former Regional Director of Corrections Ken Mills — who is also named in the lawsuit — at a May 22, 2018, county council committee meeting. At that meeting, Brack testified that the jail nursing situation was dire and accused Mills of blocking the hiring of additional nurses.

At a Wednesday press conference, Brack said after speaking out, he honestly expected Boutros and Budish would fix the problems at the jail, or would have at least come to him for more information about what was going on there.

“Never once did Dr. Boutros or Armond Budish pick up the phone and say, ‘Hey Nurse Brack, what’s going on down there?’” Brack said. “What did happen was two days later I’m summoned to MetroHealth and told, ‘You’re relieved of your position’.”

While MetroHealth’s press release blasts Brack’s lawyer and lawsuit, it also directly addresses the company’s relationship with Brack, saying he is still respected and was a valued employee.

“[W]e never contemplated or desired his transfer out of the jail. We did so at the demand of our client,” according to the statement. “We tried to keep Gary at MetroHealth in comparable positions and continue to wish he was a part of our team.”

The lawsuit alleges Brack was offered at least two lower-level positions, including a staff nurse job with MetroHealth, but he refused those positions and was fired in August.

MetroHealth also refuted Chandra’s allegation that the company’s decisions were financialy motivated, saying the lawyer has no knowledge of the profitability of the jail contract and that the contract is not actually profitable.

 

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