Former Indian River Medical Center COO Steve Salyer
DURING THE WEEK OF DECEMBER 17, 2015 MEG LAUGHLIN WOTE AN ARTICLE IN 32963 ENTITLED “HOSPITAL COO IS SURPRISED TO HEAR OF RESIGNATION.” STEVE SALYER, INDIAN RIVER MEDICAL CENTER (IRMC) COO “WAS TOLD TO HIS SURPRISE…THAT HE WAS RESIGNING THAT VERY AFTERNOON TO ‘PURSUE CAREER OPPORTUNITIES.'”
Salyer came out of the office and left IRMC later that day. (Isn’t that the norm when you are terminated?)
IRMC CEO Jeff Susi announced Mr. Salyer’s resignation in a later afternoon email to IRMC staff. Mr. Susi said Steven Salyer has resigned as COO to pursue career opportunities in larger organizations where he sees a greater opportunity for advancement.”
Further, Ms. Laughlin wrote that “when he left the hospital Mr. Salyer refused to respond to questions. A doctor, who asked not to be named, said “He knew he had to keep quiet or his severance pay would be cancelled.”
According to US News & World Report MONEY, “If you quit your job…you’d be ineligible for severance pay.”
According to Forbes / Personal Finance, the downside of quitting, is that “obviously, there’s no severance package.”
But, according to US News & World Report MONEY, a company may offer severance as a way to negotiate with you to get you to give up your legal rights (this typically means you can’t sue the company for firing you or laying you off if you sign an agreement.)”
Isn’t it typically the rule of thumb that one who quits his job has a new one lined up?
Then on December 18, 2015 Janet Begley of the Treasure Coast Newspapers wrote that the trustees of the Indian River County Hospital District asked “why the operations officer decided to seek other employment?”
They must not have read Ms. Laughlin’s article that Mr. Salyer” was told to his surprise…that he was resigning that very afternoon.”
Trustee Michael Weiss, Ms. Begley wrote, “said he would like to understand what really happened with Salyers’ resignation.”
Further, “former Hospital Trustee Burton Lee says he believes Salyer was ‘treated badly’ and that he didn’t resign to go to a bigger city. He urged Susi to tell the public about the resignation.
But Susi repeated that Salyer resigned to pursue opportunities at larger organizations where he sees greater opportunity for advancement. ‘He decided he needed a new start,’ Susi said. ‘And he shared personal reasons that I am not at liberty to share.'”
Attorney William Stewart and IRMC president / CEO Jeff Susi
This all comes against the backdrop of Ms. Laughlin’s November 2015 article that “the majority of Hospital District Trustees expressed dismay …after learning that the IRMC, its CEO Jeff Susi and its COO Steve Salyer had quietly settled a Federal non-compete lawsuit after Salyer was hired away from the Sebastian River Medial Center.
Depositions in the lawsuit show that hospital CEO Jeff Susi, then-hospital board chairman Tom Segura and hospital board member Kathy Hendrix, along with hospital general counsel Val Larcombe and current hospital board chairman Wayne Hockmeyer, knew about the non-compete clause in Salyer’s contract before he was hired, but didn’t think it was enforceable (based on what Salyer said a businessman told him) and saw no reason to look into it.”
Mr. Salyer was hired effective April 21, 2014, one year eight months ago.
Thus it would seem, from Ms. Laughlin, that for months prior to Mr. Salyers hiring the “hospital” and its “Board” knew about the non-compete agreement and chose not to “look into it.”
Did the “hospital” and its “Board” behave ethically when it hired Salyer, who had non-compete, no-solicitation of employees and no sharing of trade secrets clauses in his contract with Sebastian?”
According to the Florida Bar Journal, enforcement of a covenant not to compete by Sebastian Medical Center would have begun with an application to the trial court for temporary injunctive relief, which is governed by Fla. R. Civ. P. 1.610.
Maybe this happened.
If it did, defeating Sebastian Medical Center’s application for a temporary restraining order would have been Mr. Slayer’s responsibility. If he lost, he would most likely not have had the emotional or financial resources to prosecute a successful appeal of the nonfinal order granting the temporary injunction.
Months of being out of work in Mr. Salyer’s most economically productive occupation would have taken its toll. It still may.
Did this play into the IRMC / Sebastian Medical Center settlement?
Ms. Begley wrote that at the December 17, 2015 Hospital District meeting, that Trustee Dr. Val Zudans “asked if IRMC and Salyer would waive the confidentially and clarify why Salyer resigned.”
“But Trustee Mary Beth Cunningham said she believed asking for full disclosure of the circumstances could actually hurt Salyer in his new job search.”
With all due respect, we do not agree. Without full disclosure, how will Mr. Sayler market himself to a prospective employer when they ask why did you resign from IRMC so suddenly? And if he is bound not to disclose this information, how will he overcome the obstacle of explaining this chapter of his career?
(Of course then too there was a prior article by Ms. Laughlin about how Mr. Salyer had expressed a desire to work for IRMC until Mr. Susi retired. And another about him losing his cell phone into the water and his wife throwing out his laptop.)
While this is serious, it’s about the “time.”
Prior to moving to Vero Beach from Boston two years ago I ran, for nine years, a successful software/hardware technology firm (until we were acquired by a Silicon Valley backed software firm that destroyed all I had worked for.)
But when we were successful, achieving $ 180,000 in revenue per employee and consistent 16-18% profitability, all of us, as employees, devoted every minute of every day to our customers, to the new business we generated because of them and to the service we provided to fuel both. Part of my focus was to ensure the wellbeing and advancement of our employees.
Of course, we had our normal distractions such as customer issues and patent disputes.
Although we would have been considered chump change compared to IRMC, if we had ever encountered on a small scale the distractions that the IRMC has and is having over Mr. Sayler’s resignation, it would have been detrimental to our business in terms of taking our eye off the ball. We would have suffered greatly without the day-to-day attention to our core business, much to the detriment of our investors.
How much time and how many man hours have been devoted to Mr. Sayler’s hiring, subsequent deliberations, knowing there was a non-compete agreement in place, and to his subsequent resignation? Not to mention the legal fees and the cost of the settlement in and of itself.
The focus should be running running the Hospital and dedication to patient outcomes.
This could have all been prevented. Was there any oversight? How will this effect philanthropy and day-to-day operations of a not-for-profit hospital dependent on taxpayer funding?
And now IRMC does not have a COO and how much time and evergy will be lost in requiting a new one. Time is money.
This is not part of a pattern by Vero Communique to vilify IRMC, because we have recently written very positive articles about the Dr. Milston Navigator Program, the Sculy-Weslsh Cancer Center, it’s relationship with Duke and the passion of Clinical Director Dr. Wanda K. North in visiting Costa Rica to give medical care to those in need. Not to mention a commentary by Dr. Milston himself.
Some of these articles have been posted on the IRMC website.
A lot of people hope this matter just doesn’t get swept under the rug.