Letter to the Editor

By James Nelson Gingerich

On Thursday, October 28, I was informed by Max Mertz, chair of the board of Maple City Health Care Center, that my employment there as executive director and physician was being terminated with three days’ notice, on November 1. I was not given any explanation, rationale, or cause for the termination.

Since the health center’s opening in February 1989, I often left for work with the sense that I am the luckiest guy in the world—going off to do what I always wanted to do. And this is the place where I was privileged to do it. I have been blessed by the generosity of this community and by partnerships with our neighbors, and with other strong organizations at city, county, state, and national levels. And I have been blessed with the chance to work with a wonderful staff of people deeply committed to the health care center’s mission. I reflect with great satisfaction on all that we have been able to do together.

Just a month ago Maple City Health Care Center was informed by the National Association of Community Health Centers that it was one of the top ten highest quality health care centers in the country, based on an assessment of performance in areas that have a high impact on disease burden and cost. That announcement came with an invitation to participate in leading a national conversation about improving quality outcomes in community health centers.

I am proud that we have been not just an organization that delivers vital medical, dental, and behavioral health services in our neighborhood but also a place where staff and patients engage each other in opportunities for meaningful change—change in habits, lifestyle, relationships, social connectedness and belonging.

I learned not long ago that how you feel about your relationship with your supervisor is the biggest predictor of your job satisfaction. I recognize that some staff were not thriving in their work under my supervision. I regret that deeply. I had hoped that work with consultants the board engaged would focus on helping us hear and understand each other so that we could take steps to rebuild the kind of trust needed to sustain good working relationships. Clearly that is not the direction the board or its consultant, Rick Stiffney, have taken. 

I regret that the abruptness of this ending means that I have not had an opportunity to say goodbye in person to the staff or to my dear patients. Working with you has been the privilege of my lifetime, and I will miss you.

With deep appreciation,James Nelson Gingerich