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More heads roll at the hospital

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Mary Stroka, NLJ Reporter

Hospital’s staffing issues worsen in ‘toxic’ work environment

In addition to several leadership changes that have taken place since late 2023, Weston County Health Services last week placed the hospital’s second-in-command on leave in a move that is likely to be examined by the embattled hospital board at yet another special meeting that has been called this Thursday.

Dr. Duane Charles “Chuck” Franklin, the hospital’s medical director, said in a phone call on April 29 that Thursday’s is “going to be a very interesting meeting” and that the public should watch it live.

“The current hospital culture is one of fear,” he said. “I think the staff are afraid about administrative collapse or financial problems for the hospital and worried that the hospital could close soon if changes aren’t made rapidly.”

Multiple sources confirmed this week that Piper Allard, the chief operating officer, has been placed on administrative leave in the latest of high-level administrative changes at Weston County Health Services. Those sources declined to speak on the record because they feared retaliation, but Allard told the NLJ in a Facebook message on April 28 that she indeed has been placed on administrative leave but is unable to speak about it at this time.

Word of the action taken against Allard began to circulate in the community on April 23, just hours after WCHS CEO Randy Lindauer commented on another leadership change in a letter that Newcastle News Letter Journal received on April 22.

“You may have heard I have accepted the resignation of Dr. Cary Bybee effective May 17th. On behalf of Weston County Health Services, we wish Dr. Bybee continued success and thank him for his time with us,” Lindauer said. “My commitment to Dr. Bybee is to provide a smooth transition. My commitment to you is the continued provision of safe, high-quality care in a customer-oriented manner. My two commitments are not mutually exclusive.”

This is not the only leadership change that the hospital system underwent this month, let alone in the past year, but the CEO has refused to acknowledge or offer any comment on those other employee departures, as has the chair of the hospital’s board.

“Personnel matters are confidential under Wyoming law and the Hospital is not authorized to make statements on this matter,” Board President Dorothy Briggs said in a text on April 26. “The Board does not manage WCHS employees — this is an administrative issue handled by the CEO. The previous resignations were made public either by the employees or with consent of the employees. Healthcare providers have a professional obligation to notify patients of their departure.”


Lindauer told the NLJ in an email on April 26 that he could not provide the same level of detail regarding Allard that he provided for Bybee.

Lindauer was hired by the WCHS board in December after former CEO Judd Dawson resigned due to “unforeseen and unfortunate events” in his personal life only months into his tenure, as the News Letter Journal reported in an article recapping 2023 events.

CFO William Giles’ employment with the hospital ended sometime in December 2023 or January 2024, and when the News Letter Journal reached out to Lindauer for confirmation regarding Giles’ departure, Lindauer declined to provide any background or explanation, the NLJ reported on Feb. 1.

Another longtime employee resigned this month and described a climate of fear and retaliation that has resulted in a number of recent staffing changes at the hospital.

Kristen Kohlbrand, who worked at the hospital for 20 years, has said she ended her service to the Weston County community on April 19 because of the “toxic” work environment.

“There has been a pretty toxic work environment for a couple years now with one of the doctors, but for some reason nothing was ever done about it,” she said in a Facebook message on April 25. “He was explosive and unpredictable. Never physically aggressive but had aggressive body language when yelling at people. He would also talk bad about other providers and nurses to not only staff members, but also patients. We had given up trying to say anything because he would say he wanted people fired or that he was going to contact certain board members or the CEO to get rid of them, and then it would happen.”

She said she was scared to say anything because after a disagreement she had with him, she started getting “random” chart audits.

“I even got reported to the board of nursing for a HIPAA violation even after meeting with Piper and Kim about it and I thought that it was resolved after explaining that I was accessing them to respond to requests from the pharmacy or nurses,” she said. “The board of nursing must have agreed it wasn’t a violation because I never heard from them again after their initial contact and my response.”

Kohlbrand said she approached the human resources director, Jana Suazo, and CEO Randy Lindauer about the doctor to try to give the new administrators a chance to respond to her concerns.

Suazo was fired “after trying to do her job and investigate the complaints,” according to Kohlbrand.


“One of the nurses who filed a hostile workplace complaint was initially fired, but later given the option to work at the manor or hospital (instead of the clinic),” Kohlbrand said in her message. “At one point Piper and HR, before she (Suazo) was fired, weren’t allowed to talk to the clinic without Randy’s permission. Randy told clinic staff they weren’t allowed to talk to the board, even though we found out later that it wasn’t true. We were told by Randy that he’s never seen this doctor act this way so nothing could be done. There are inappropriate texts from him to his clinical assistant that Randy was aware of and still nothing happened.”

Kohlbrand said that staff then started filing grievances to the board. Briggs and Lindauer tried to stop a grievance from a nurse who lost her clinic position because the complaint didn’t follow the proper process, according to Kohlbrand, but as more staff filed grievances, the board began holding executive sessions to discuss “personnel.”

“I was treated like I was on trial and they were more concerned with where I heard things like that Piper and Jana couldn’t talk to us, or that Jana was put on administrative leave than that were the things I was reporting,” Kohlbrand said. “After the executive sessions, Jana received a response that I didn’t see but basically told her she needed to talk to Randy instead of the board, and then she was fired the day she came back from administrative leave.”

Kohlbrand said that she and another staff member have not yet received a response to their complaints.

“The nurse who was let go from the clinic was told there wasn’t a hostile workplace and that her loss of her position wasn’t retaliatory,” Kohlbrand said.

“I decided that I couldn’t work at a place where their values support the abuser and where there is a culture of fear,” Kohlbrand said. “Plus, mentally I can’t keep worrying about things being made up again and putting my license at risk, and it’s exhausting frequently having coworkers coming to my office crying or having panic attacks due to the stress, especially when there is no backup from admin and we are treated like the problem.”

Kohlbrand said she will be working in a small clinic in Dubois, and an April 18 Weston County Health Services Facebook post said that Lindauer, Karen Paul (the interim chief human resources officer), Carmen Allison and Heather Boyer “joined in wishing Kristen well.”

The post also said that Dr. Lanny Reimer is retiring, with a date that will be announced. Allison, who had worked for the hospital for 28 years, retired as the director of home health in fall 2023, according to board meeting minutes and a post on Instagram. Boyer assumed the position after Allison’s departure, according to the WCHS website.

(Editor’s note: As we were gathering details for this story, the News Letter Journal learned from multiple sources about the board meeting that has reportedly been scheduled for this Thursday. and the board president confirmed after being contacted by the newspaper that a meeting will take place. The board meeting will be held at 4:30 p.m., and the News Letter Journal intends to broadcast it live on YouTube. Continue to monitor and the News Letter Journal Facebook page for updates and more information as it becomes available.)

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