The truth behind why I left North Valley Hospital

Dear Editor,

As I leave the Tonasket community as a contracted Nurse Consultant by North Valley Hospital District; it is with full gratitude that I say, “Thank you.” Thank you to the “awesomesauce” employees of North Valley Hospital and the welcoming Tonasket community at large.

Though I have enjoyed working with the staff at NVH, it is with anguish and regret that I write this letter. It has been brought to my attention that there is some confusion as to why I “left” NVH so unexpectedly. Why the partnership ended so abruptly?

I did not “leave” NVH nor did I breach my contract. Contrary to rumor and conjecture, I was not “insubordinate.” I adhered to the contractual terms and conditions.

In full transparency to your publicly owned hospital, I am happy to provide a copy of my contract to the public of what I was contracted to do. What actually occurred is as follows:

Upon my attempt to report to work on Tuesday July 12, 2016 Jan Gonzales (HR) met me on the public sidewalk and stated, “Mike (referring to Mike Zwicker, CEO) doesn’t want you back in the building and I need your badge.” Out of my 22 years of professional experience, being a PhD student, two (2) State and one (1) nationwide nominations for Nurse Leader of the Year; this “sidewalk” notification approach is very unfamiliar to me.

I believe the catalyst to Mike Zwicker, CEO wanting to terminate the contractual agreement was out of retaliation towards me. Over the past six weeks, I had brought and attempted to bring unethical and unfair practices forward to Mike Zwicker, CEO and to hold his, now wife, Brady Taber-Zwicker accountable for her work performance. At that point, Mike Zwicker, CEO, had a difficult time managing his emotions to the point that he discontinued meeting with me, cancelled all meetings with me, would not speak to me, permitted Brandy Taber-Zwicker to delegate to me (though I was her boss), allowed her to make decisions for areas of my responsibility, refusal to commit to payout of my contract (as per contract) and professionally slander of my Nationally known good name.

I respectfully refer to this as “my perception” because it is becoming evident to me that my attorney, the Whistleblower: Dodd-Frank Act, the Department of Labor and Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services is likely needed to intervene to reconcile fact from fiction.

I had hoped Mike Zwicker, CEO would investigate the organizational at risk concerns with objectivity versus retaliation. However; I have not experienced ethics to be his strong suite.

The absolute only hesitation that I had up unto this point with formally filing a Whistleblower claim for investigation is my clear understanding of who, ultimately, would be impacted by that action. I had sincerely come to respect the Tonasket community. The communities’ tax dollars and the hospitals profit margin could suffer the consequences. It’s no secret of how his actions impacted his former employer, Wheatland Memorial Healthcare.

To further strengthen my claim, Mike Zwicker, CEO has gone thru great lengths to cover up his embellishments:

Email restrictions that occurred ,suddenly, on the same Tuesday of my “sidewalk chat” was requested by Mike Zwicker, CEO within minutes of him being made aware that I had emailed the Board of Commissioners with my concerns and notification that Mike Zwicker had retaliated against me. This was his feeble attempt to intercept my email to the Board of Commissioners so that the Board of Commissioner’s would not find out the organizational risk taking place at NVH.

In an effort to conceal, he suddenly promoted Brandy Taber-Zwicker to a Manager so that she would become an Exempt employee and the Vacation Pay/Hours would not apply to her. Policies and Job descriptions were miraculously revised to cover historical unfairness, urgent meetings to synchronize stories before the Board Meeting (Thursday) took place. Basically; attempting to hide the truth.

The reckless actions that have been taken are rarely taken by an experienced leader. An experienced leader knows; that you would never take such reckless measures to fix and/or conceal your actions because it further supports that the problems were reported and the retaliation claim.

I have been overwhelmed by the number of community members, employees, and physicians who have contacted me to file a claim against NVH because that’s the only way “anyone will listen.” My response, “Why should I care about NVH more than the employee’s, the doctors, the Board, and (now) the community at large does?” For the record, I have exhausted all venues to notify NVH and Mike Zwicker, CEO of organizational risk concerns and the retaliation that followed. I trust NVH will do the right thing and not continue to retaliate by breaching the terms and conditions of my contract and the slandering of my good name.

Respectfully Submitted,

Arnese Stern

Stafford, Texas