SHERIDAN, Mich. (WOOD) — There’s cautious optimism for the future of Sheridan Community Hospital after a change in leadership, but those who dedicated their career to the rural resource worry it could be too little too late.
Target 8 first began examining operations at the hospital earlier this year, when current and former Sheridan Community Hospital (SCH) employees pointed out a doctor facing federal charges previously worked for the hospital.
As accusations of similar bad behavior in Stanton were investigated, others began coming forward asking Target 8 to look into now-former CEO Randy Flechsig.
The hospital board voted to fire him Wednesday.
“That’s a good step in the right direction, but now you have to continue to clean house,” Teresa Baker told News 8 a day after the leadership change went public. “Get rid of the other people that just stood by and allowed him to do what he did. I think they know who they are, so I’m not going to mention names.”
Baker spent more than three decades working for the Montcalm County hospital.
Nearly a year before she sat down with Target 8, the registered nurse sent a scathing letter to board members and human resources explaining why she was leaving.
She told Target 8 no one ever acknowledged it was received, nor followed up to discuss her detailed frustrations.
“I no longer wished to take part in what the hospital was becoming,” Baker explained. “Many efforts had been made to stop it from many employees. Nothing was being done. I no longer cared to witness the treatment of the employees.”
Target 8 is sharing her letter with redactions. The blackened areas include statements from Baker that Target 8 is still working to independently confirm.
The ongoing SCH investigation previously found supplies running low in a storage closet and similar accusations about Flechsig’s leadership approach.
“When I saw patient care starting to be affected, I thought, ‘I can’t. I can’t do this anymore because I won’t sit by.’ I’ve talked to the board. I’ve talked to department heads. I’ve talked to Randy and I can’t sit by in an institution and watch this happen because obviously, it’s not going to stop,” Baker told Target 8.
Baker estimated she worked under seven CEOs during her 32 years at SCH and cited obstacles rural hospitals face in her letter.
She believes national health care trends don’t account for what she experienced, adding she and other co-workers began voicing concerns not long after the former-Davenport President took over in 2012.
“He was a bully, he was a bully,” Baker recounted. “If you went up against him or said something he didn’t care for and you persisted with that, then he would just find a way to get rid of you.”
A Thursday press release sent to Target 8 called the leadership change a “separation.” It also noted a focus to build on recent success, including a United States Department of Agriculture grant SCH received in October 2018.
The more than $284,000 is part of an effort to address the nationwide opioid epidemic.
The project will develop a telemedicine system that addresses opioid misuse and provides professional development opportunities throughout Montcalm County, according to the USDA announcement last year.
As of Sunday, Target 8 has not found a public update on SCH’s grant project.
A Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request is currently pending with the USDA to determine what the timeline is and if SCH has made any progress on the project.
A request for comment on this story was sent to the board president and interim-CEO Friday. Target 8 has not yet received a response.
“Nobody wants Sheridan Community Hospital to go away,” Baker responded when asked if she had any final thoughts for Target 8. “It’s a wonderful thing for this community, but something has to be done and I’m not sure if it’s too late.”
Editor’s note: Teresa Baker is the mother of Amy Schultz, who previously spoke to Target 8 about efforts to report Richard Piazza to hospital leadership.