A hearing set for this afternoon will determine whether former employees of a prominent women’s health clinic in Longview must stop trying to lure personnel and patients from Zeid Women’s Health Center.
Dr. Yasser Zeid bases his civil lawsuit against Special Health Resources and five staff members hired since the end of March on employment agreements signed by each of the five when they came on board with his East Marshall Avenue clinic.
“We hired other staff,” Zeid said Friday in an interview during which his attorney, Greg Love of Henderson, was also on the phone line. “We’re able to provide for our patients. Some of our patients chose to go over there (to Special Health Resources), with which we have no problem.”
The five former Zeid employees and Special Health Resources counter in a response motion that Zeid gave up his right to enforce provisions in the employment agreement by failing to pay them comp time and bonuses, among other complaints.
Zeid seeks a minimum monetary award of $1 million from the 124th District Court in Longview. A jury trial is set for May 2020.
Injunctions at issue
Today’s hearing, before Judge Alfonso Charles, is to hear Special Health Resources’ motion to dissolve a temporary injunction forbidding the nonprofit clinic and the five new employees from soliciting Zeid’s patients and personnel.
“A significant volume of patients were solicited by these former employees and did leave Dr. Zeid’s care because of their conduct,” Love said, adding his client is seeking monetary damages based on a claim of interference with Zeid’s business.
The lawsuit also claims a breach of contract based on Medicaid reimbursements Zeid says Special Health Resources withheld for care that Zeid gave its patients under a 2016 partnership in which Zeid’s staff saw Special Health patients.
A third Zeid motion to the court was for a temporary injunction, barring the former Zeid employees from continuing the acts that Zeid says they undertook as soon as they left his employ. That injunction was signed by Charles on March 20, and Zeid will defend against Special Health Resource’s motion to dissolve it in the hearing set for 2 p.m. today in Charles’ courtroom.
The attorney for Special Health Resources, Bruce Smith, did not respond to attempts to reach him for comment beginning Wednesday. Robert Crank, president of the nonprofit board governing Special Health Resources, also did not respond to voice mails left on his cell phone since Wednesday.
Crank resigned from the board Thursday morning. He wrote in a Facebook post that board member Hank Guichelaar had resigned earlier that week.
“My only goal, as a board member, was to make health care available to those with HIV and those lacking adequate health care,” Crank wrote.
Kim Nesvig, executive director of Special Health Resources since coming on as a consultant in 2016, resigned April 30.
“I had a disagreement with the board over some issues that had come up,” Nesvig said last week, adding those issues revolved around micromanagement of daily operations and not the Zeid lawsuit. “One of the necessities of a nonprofit organization is a clear line between governance and management.”
Much of Zeid’s claim arises from employment agreements the former employees — two nurse practitioners and two nurse midwives — signed when they were hired and renewed annually. Those signed agreements, which are included as exhibits in his original filing, say the employees will solicit neither patients nor fellow staff members for two years after leaving Zeid’s employment or provide women’s health services within a 20-mile radius for one year after leaving Zeid’s clinic.
A general denial filed by Special Health Resources in response says the employees were freed from those restrictions by Zeid.
“Plaintiff (Zeid) failed to provide defendants the consideration promised in return for defendants’ post-employment restrictions,” the motion reads, claiming a failure to pay comp time or some or all of bonuses.
Zeid’s clinic and Special Health Resources became associated in 2016, Love said, when Zeid’s staff began seeing its patients under a collaboration whereby Zeid’s clinic would be reimbursed under Special Health’s Medicaid protocol.
Zeid said the partnership was a way for him to add indigent care to his patient portfolio.
“Our mission is to bring heath care to everybody, not just patients with insurance, not just patients who can afford it,” Zeid said. “The CEO of SHRT appreciated this. He said, ‘Let’s collaborate, so we can provide these patients these services.’ “