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Judge overturns ThedaCare's restraining order against Ascension

Seven healthcare workers can now start new jobs at St. Elizabeth's
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Posted at 4:23 PM, Jan 25, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-25 17:23:45-05

An Outagamie County Circuit Court judge lifted the temporary restraining order ThedaCare sought against Ascension for hiring seven of 11 total employees in their interventional radiology and cardiovascular department to start on the same day.

On Jan. 21, Judge Mark McGinnis put a temporary restraining order in place based on the lawsuit filed the day before on behalf of ThedaCare, which alleged that Ascension intentionally recruited and "poach[ed]" 64% of their IRC team, knowing that ThedaCare would be unable to provide patient care without that many staff members. This sudden loss of staff put Neenah Medical Center's Level II trauma center designation at risk. Neenah Medical Center is the only Level II trauma center in the Fox Valley.

As a result, ThedaCare requested to cease the hirings or have Ascension provide one radiology technician and nurse available daily for 90 days until ThedaCare was able to hire replacement staff.

On Jan. 24, Ascension filed a brief in response that blamed ThedaCare's "poor management" on the staff exodus, who lawyers claim were not intentionally recruited by ThedaCare but as at-will employees, applied to open job listings with competitive wages on their own. Reportedly, ThedaCare failed to provide counteroffers to the employees that resigned.

At the hearing on Monday, the court found that ThedaCare failed to meet their burden of proof, removing the request for an injunction as well as denying their request for relief. While litigation continues, the seven employees are able to start their jobs at St. Elizabeth's Hospital immediately.

After the judge's ruling, a spokesperson for Ascension said in a statement: "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. We will continue to support our healthcare workers and staff and we thank them for their tireless dedication to providing high quality, compassionate care to our communities."