Special Health Resources for Texas has fired seven employees — five nurse practitioners and two certified nurse midwives — in response to a court order that barred them from seeing patients at SHRT’s Longview clinic, David Hayes, interim CEO of SHRT, confirmed Wednesday.
Hayes said the order May 15 from 124th District Judge Alfonso Charles “tied my hands,” adding it was related to the lawsuit that the women’s former employer, Zeid’s Women’s Health Center, had filed against SHRT, a nonprofit entity.
Charles’ ruling gave the seven mid-level health providers until May 31 at SHRT’s Woman and Child Health Center on Seventh Street to tell their patients that they may not see them temporarily.
Hayes, a five-year employee who has served as interim CEO after former CEO Kim Nesvig left in April, said he placed the seven women on paid administrative leave June 3 and fired them this past Saturday. Nesvig hired them in February.
“During that week, we were trying to see if there was some way to continue to see patients with those (seven) providers,” Hayes said. “They were not going to be able to see patients going forward. So, I did not have any other recourse. We have been supporting them and trying to. We have been in several hearings and trying to support the ladies, but there was no other avenue.”
Hayes said SHRT rescheduled appointments during the week the employees were put on administrative leave.
He was responding to a ruling from Charles that enforced a temporary injunction he issued March 27 in a lawsuit in which Dr. Yasser Zeid accused his former employees of soliciting his patients after going to work for SHRT.
Zeid sued SHRT March 4, seeking more that $1 million in relief from what he described as “practice poaching.”
He based his claim on clauses in employment agreements — signed by at least four employees — in which they promised not to provide women’s health services for a year after they left Zeid at any of four Longview clinics: Family Circle of Care, Trinity Clinic, Wellness Pointe and Diagnostic Clinic of Longview.
The signed “covenants of noncompetition” also forbid the providers from soliciting Zeid’s patients or staff for two years.
Meanwhile, Hayes said SHRT is trying to fill the void with a temporary certified nurse midwife and doctors helping out.
“We are still working on building our providers to a point that we are fully staffed,” Hayes said. “It is not an exact comparison with the seven we had.”
He said the clinic had 680 patient visits in April and a similar number in May.