ThedaCare drops lawsuit against Ascension over employees' exit

ThedaCare has dropped a lawsuit against Ascension Northeast Wisconsin that sought to prevent employees from leaving to join Ascension's hospital in Appleton, The Post-Crescent reported.

In a statement shared with Becker's, Imran Andrabi, MD, president and CEO of Neenah, Wis.-based ThedaCare, said the health system dismissed the legal action against Ascension on Jan. 28. 

"We regret the seven team members who accepted positions outside of ThedaCare were impacted by this situation, and we have made efforts to ensure that the risk to them was minimized for the day between employment," the statement said. "We know the work of interventional radiology and cardiovascular nurses and technologists saves lives, and we wish them well in their new roles."

ThedaCare filed the lawsuit Jan. 20 to keep seven interventional radiology and cardiovascular workers at ThedaCare Regional Medical Center-Neenah from joining Ascension's St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton amid staffing strain and the latest COVID-19 surge. The lawsuit, filed in Outagamie County Circuit Court, claimed patient care in the area — particularly stroke and trauma care — could be in jeopardy if the workers left.

Outagamie County Circuit Court Judge Mark McGinnis initially granted an order that prevented the ThedaCare employees from leaving until the health system could find replacements. He then waived the injunction Jan. 24, saying there were other solutions available, according to The Post-Crescent.

Before the Jan. 24 decision, Ascension said in a statement shared with The New York Times that ThedaCare "had an opportunity but declined to make competitive counteroffers to retain its former employees."

Dr. Andrabi said ThedaCare has worked to ensure safe, quality, continued access to the high-level services, including onboarding new workers, welcoming agency nurses and technologists, cross training staff from across the health system and further partnering with other area health systems. 

A spokesperson for Ascension did not immediately respond to a request from The Post-Crescent for comment Jan. 28.

In a previous statement shared with WBAY, Ascension said, "We are pleased with the court's decision to dismiss the temporary restraining order preventing seven individuals from beginning employment with Ascension Wisconsin. We welcome our newest associates." 

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