Two board members and the chief executive of Health Services Center, an HIV clinic in Hobson City, were barred from working with the clinic by court order last month, court records show.
Center chief executive Denise Meadows, board president Phillip Keith and board vice president Beth Ingram face temporary suspension from work with the clinic as a dispute among clinic officials works its way through court.
On Jan. 4, a client of the clinic filed suit, claiming that Meadows violated medical privacy laws by removing 375 patient records files from a cabinet at the clinic. The plaintiff’s own medical file was among the files that were allegedly taken, according to the suit, which claims a breach of patient confidentiality. The suit also alleges that Meadows has interfered with the clinic’s chief financial officer’s ability to pay the center's staff, according to copies of the sealed court file obtained by The Anniston Star.
The complaint also alleges that Meadows misspent and mismanaged the center’s money and overspent a grant by $81,000; the complaint provides no evidence for those claims.
The complainant’s attorney, Donald Stewart, of Anniston, declined to comment when reached by phone Tuesday.
On Monday, court records showed that the case was scheduled for a Tuesday hearing in the courtroom of Circuit Judge Shannon Page. Page later postponed the hearing, though Keith, the board president, showed up at the courtroom at the time the hearing was originally scheduled.
Keith declined comment on the case, but did say he’d been barred from the board. Meadows, reached by phone, declined to comment on the case Monday.
Founded in 1990 as the AIDS Services Center, the Hobson City clinic provides HIV testing, medicine, substance abuse counseling and other services to HIV patients across 14 counties in eastern Alabama. Tax filings show the nonprofit group getting and spending around $8 million per year in 2015 and 2016.
Critics of the group, however, say that funding is being mismanaged. In a press conference Monday outside the clinic, local residents Rev. Freddy Rimpsey and Glen Ray said that some employee salaries were eating a large portion of the Center’s budget. Ray said the center started as a positive force in the community, because “someone was looking out for a disease that no one understood.” Ray and Rimpsey both made statements that claimed Dr. Barbara Hanna, the facility’s executive physician, received nearly a quarter of a million dollars in annual pay.
“It seems like the people here now are making it a money-making machine for themself,” Ray said, “when they’re making over $200,000, allegedly, and others, people at your sides, making over $100,000 or $200,000.”
Both Rimpsey and Ray called for Hanna to resign, claiming that mismanagement of grant money might lead the federal government to close the facility.
The news conference — a group of six speakers, two cameramen and a reporter — ended after about 15 minutes. A deputy sheriff’s vehicle pulled into the lot as attendees left the site. The deputy said he was called by clinic staff over privacy concerns around filming near the building entrance. Attendees were barred from clinic property afterward.
Stewart arrived soon after. He spoke with a woman who came from inside the building, who identified herself as Hanna. Asked if board members had been issued restraining orders, Stewart encouraged reporters to check court records. He denied claims that Rimpsey made about racism and discrimination.
Hanna declined to comment at that time, and later attempts to reach her by phone were unsuccessful.