6. Delta Memorial Hospital

A year-long controversy involving Delta Memorial Hospital at Dumas caused a rift in the community that resulted in lawsuits, a resignation and a new chief executive officer.

Residents angry about Delta Memorial Hospital’s termination of Dr. Peter Go in early 2012 called  for the resignation of the hospital’s chief executive officer, Cris Bolin.

The hospital board, on January 26, voted 5-1 to give Dr. Go the 60-day required notice that his contract with the hospital would not be renewed. Less than two weeks later, on February 6, the hospital notified Go that his services would not be needed during the 60-day period, gave him 30 days notice that his emergency room services would be terminated, and requested that he remove his personal belongings by February 10.

After filing suit against the hospital, Go was allowed to return to the hospital to complete the 60 days as outlined in his contract.

In response to community outcry, petitions, and questions about the board’s action, the board held a public meeting, which, at times, was reduced to a shouting match with attendees calling for Delta Memorial Hospital CEO Cris Bolin’s resignation and asking why Dr. Go’s contract was not renewed.

Local residents who attended the standing-room-only meeting treated board members as if they were in a Congressional hearing. Videos of the meeting (below), recorded by Seark Today, show shouts and cheers for Bolin to be removed.

The divide in the community caused Dumas Mayor James Berry to step down in the spring from his position on the Delta Memorial Board.

Bolin subsequently resigned as CEO but remains at the hospital as its chief financial officer.

Since November 1, Darren Caldwell has split his time as CEO between Delta Memorial and DeWitt Hospital & Nursing Home, where he had been CEO since 2002. It’s apparently the only case in Arkansas where one person is the CEO of two hospitals that have no common ownership. Both hospitals are owned by their cities and are managed by nonprofit entities.

Earlier in the year, a half-dozen former hospital employees filed lawsuits against the hospital.

Six former hourly hospital employees filed a lawsuit accusing the hospital of violating the wage and hour section of the Fair Labor Standards Act by regularly forcing employees to work through their lunch breaks because of understaffing. Hourly employees also worked off the clock because they “had been discouraged by [hospital officials] to accrue overtime,” according to the lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Pine Bluff.

Delta Memorial has denied violating the Fair Labor Standards Act, saying the complaint is without any basis in either fact or law.

Another lawsuit against Delta Memorial that is pending in the Pine Bluff division of U.S. District Court involves a former employee who says she was fired in 2009 after seven years of service for missing 19 days of work in a 90-day period and not finishing her assignments fast enough. But she believes that she was fired for having diabetes and suffering from migraines, a violation of the Americans With Disabilities Act.

The hospital denied her allegations.

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