Polk hires Dr. Lassiter as interim medical director

Published 5:31pm Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Pack then asked Pittman if he spoke to St. Luke’s CEO Ken Shull, who said he had no one else to offer for medical director and Pittman said that was correct.

Pack also asked if Lassiter had any endorsements and Pittman responded that the county received endorsements from the Polk County Medical Society and Dr. George Kim.

Renée McDermott stood for citizen comments and first questioned the firing of Dr. Allison Owens. McDermott said two of the commissioners told her previously that the reasons were because Dr. Owens was too hard on volunteers.

“As best I could tell, that meant that she required them to comply with state standards,” said McDermott. “No more, no less. That was the right thing to do. There was nothing wrong with it. Surely adhering to and applying state-mandated standards is not a firing offense.”

McDermott then said as the contract in the agenda packet makes clear, commissioners’ reasons were to hire Dr. Lassiter, who she said is a political supporter of commissioners Owens and Pack.

McDermott then questioned Lassiter’s endorsements. She said Lassiter has not provided an important qualification in the administrative code, which makes it clear that the local physician community consists of the hospital staff, the local medical society or the emergency physicians group.

McDermott also said commissioners have said that four fire departments have endorsed Dr. Lassiter. She asked why not all the fire departments and said nothing is known about the nature of the endorsements or how they were obtained.

“Those endorsers include, after all, people who complained that Dr. Owens was too tough, and they are among the people that the EMS medical director will oversee,” McDermott said. “But members of Polk County’s fire departments are not members of ‘the local physician community.’  So their endorsement cannot be used to meet the EMS medical director standards.”

The county received two letters for Dr. Lassiter. One was from Dr. Kim, M.D., which said he has known Dr. Lassiter for several years and they have a good working relationship. Dr. Kim’s letter also said Dr. Lassiter is an active member of the physician community.

The county also received a letter from Dr. Lassiter, who is the president of the Polk County Medical Society. Lassiter said he’s been the president of the medical society for over five years and his responsibilities have included managing the bank account for the society, arranging physician meetings, school physicals and community screenings.

“I own a practice here in Polk County and refer patients to other physicians in the county and receive referrals from other physicians and providers in the county,” stated Dr. Lassiter’s letter. “Attached is a letter from Dr. Kim verifying my participation in the local physician community. I have also maintained privileges at St. Luke’s Hospital since July 2000.”

Gasperson read the letter during the meeting with McDermott saying from the audience, “he’s endorsing himself.”

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