The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
By Sally Day, The Quill
Speaking briefly and articulately, Nick Ebert, of Stronghurst, addressed the County Board in regards to his recent dismissal from the Henderson County Health Department. Lacey DeJaynes, of Biggsville, also spoke on her similar termination from the same entity.
More than twenty visitors were on hand, Thursday morning, November 21, 2013, at the Henderson County Board meeting. In separate accounts, both young people thanked the Board for allowing them to speak before continuing their plight.
Ebert explained to the Board he had worked as a staff nurse for Henderson County Health Department Hospice; as a Marketing/Outreach Coordinator; and as a nurse at the County Jail, for the past fourteen and a half months. He said that during this time he, "saved the County money by limiting ER visits with thorough evaluations and utilizing local clinics." He added, "I helped spread the word about the Health Department by marketing in nearby cities."
"We are not here to slander the Health Department," said Ebert. "They are a great organization in which its employees provide great services to our community members," he stated.
Ebert went on to say that he was terminated, without reason, stemming from an altercation between the Administrator of Henderson County Health Department and a co-worker. A police report was made. Two days later, Ebert lost his job. "I am just one of a large group of former employees who were fired without reason," Ebert said. "My purpose for speaking with you today is simply to tell my story in hopes that this doesn't happen to anyone else who is just trying to make a living, support their families and be a productive member of this community," he further said.
In conclusion, Ebert stated, "I lost my job because I was willing to support a co-worker in something I believed was right. I feel that these many terminations are a direct result of someone's personal/ emotional thoughts and aren't that of a professional manner. I truly wish there was something that could be done to help those working for the Health Department, because it is those people that make that organization the great place that it is.
DeJaynes began her portion of the meeting, by stating how much she appreciated the Board for allowing them to speak. She told Board members that she was hired as a part-time employee as a Housekeeper, Kitchen Helper and Meal Route Driver a little later. She was hired in the beginning of June of this year and promoted to Kitchen Manager in August. Her duties included cooking lunch, placing food orders, creating monthly menus, handling Health Department bills, taking care of the food pantry, and supervised a kitchen employee. DeJaynes said, "On my own initiative, I created a food cost tracking system to help save money for the organization."
Both Ebert and DeJaynes noted that they loved it and felt fulfilled by jobs and in helping the community. DeJaynes was momentarily quietly emotional, but recovered quickly from this.
"In September," DeJaynes continued, "I got my Sanitation License from the State of Illinois." In October, she said she sent at email to the Administrator about an incident with the Senior Services Manager. She requested a meeting. Soon thereafter, the computer DeJaynes had always used was removed from the kitchen. At a meeting on November 7, DeJaynes said she stood professionally by her kitchen help following a brutal verbal personal attack. This alleged altercation between the kitchen helper and the Administrator resulted in a police report being filed.
On November 14, DeJaynes was terminated with no reason given. No reprimands or occurrences by DeJaynes were documented, she said.
She concluded by saying, "I stand before you today, unemployed, not knowing why. Based on the facts, I have to believe it was in direct retaliation of the alleged altercation with my immediate subordinate. I am not here to hurt Henderson County Health Department. I believe the organization provides many valuable services. I am here to alert the current and future employees and the community that organization with the County's name is operating in such a way."
County Board Chairman Marty Lafary asked if anyone else wanted to add anything else to this matter. Although a large group of people were on hand from the Henderson County Health Department, no one said a word. LaFary also made mention that the County Board accepted the Henderson County Health Department's appointments.
While the Board met in Executive Session to discuss Union matters, many people were in the hallway. Judy Gravgaard, President of the Henderson County Health Department approached the two newspaper people present and said that as the President of the Board, she stands behind Lynne Haase, Administrator of the Henderson County Health Department. When asked why she said nothing during the meeting, Gravgaard said she didn't want to lengthen the meeting any longer than it was. Administrator Haase was also present and said, "When you lie, you suffer the consequences."
In other business, the Board: