CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- During his six months on paid administrative leave, soon-to-be fired Department of Health and Human Resources spokesman John Law did his best to keep up the pretense of working from home (even though he was given a generic laptop with no DHHR links or programs), regularly e-mailing reporters summaries of state and national news and other reports regarding public health and human services issues.
Ironically (or perhaps, not so much), Law's last summary before he got his letter of termination included an item about how DHHR had evidently botched for the third time the bid process for a $250 million mega-computer (apparently after DHHR inadvertently sent bid documents from Xerox State Healthcare that contained trade secrets and confidential information to rival bidder Molina Medicaid Solutions.)
Acting DHHR Secretary Rocco Fucillo was on thin ice with the Tomblin administration even before the MMIS computer bidding tri-bacle, and the firing of Law.
Word is, Tomblin is trying to persuade Dr. Bob Walker, currently state vice chancellor for Health Sciences, to take the job.
Not a bad choice, even though in the early 1990s, we referred to Walker as the "Evil Dr. Bob" as he spearheaded an ill-conceived (and fortunately, ill-fated) attempt to dismantle the West Virginia University School of Medicine. (As opposed to the "Good Dr. Bob," then-WVU Med School Dean Bob D'Alessandri ... )
Speaking of DHHR, Ronald Morris, the Sharpe Hospital employee who was suspended and subsequently arrested on charges of making terroristic threats on Jan. 1, has also been fired.
(Morris reportedly commented to two co-workers in the Sharpe Hospital dining room, "I can't believe someone hasn't come in here and cleaned house." Which his supervisors in turn, interpreted as a threat to shoot people.)
While Morris was suspended for allegedly creating a "violent or hostile work environment," his letter of termination (from hospital CEO D. Parker Haddix) states that grounds for dismissal is gross misconduct.
Immediately after the suspension, Morris' wife, Kim, who also works at the Lewis County psychiatric hospital, had her employee badge deactivated. (That put her at some risk, since the swipe-card badges open locked doors within the facility.)
However, her badge was reactivated two days later, after a memo went out stating, "The security risk that was the reason for the original deactivation of the employee's badge has now been lowered."
Haddix also put out a memo to employees, calling for vigilance regarding hospital security.
"If something or someone appears suspicious, notify security right away. The best security we have is a vigilant staff," the memo stated.