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Wednesday, March 2, 2022

Reporting by Mallory Diefenbach [mdiefenbach@batavianews.com]:
WCCH Controversy: Mason’s attorney says details of termination ‘vague, nonsensical and unsupported’

Why was Dr. Paul Mason’s contract terminat-ed? That’s something Dr. Mason and his lawyer would like to know as well. The Daily News talked to Dr. Mason and his lawyer, Robert Boreanaz, Tuesday afternoon. 

I don’t have any details for you,” Boreanaz said. “That’s the ironic part about this. The contract requires written notice, just like every contract you got to provide written notice if you want to claim the contract needs to be broken.”

The termination of Mason’s contract with the Wyoming County Community Health System in January has proven highly controversial. The decision was criticized sharply by members of the public and hospital staff — including several doctors — at a Board of Managers meeting last week.

The hospital, through former Chief Executive Officer Joseph McTernan, tried to justify its decision, Boreanaz said, by throwing as much “crap on the wall, hoping something might stick.” Of the concerns in the written hospital statement, he said, there are zero names, zero dates, zero details of any claimed concerns.

Instead, Boreanaz said, vague, nonsensical and unsupported concerns are raised which are nearly impossible to address because of the lack of details.

“For some god awful reason the (Wyoming County) Board of Supervisors collectively didn’t think it would be important enough to get those details before a decision was made to end a contract with a service provider that has brought so much success to the hospital and its patients — has garnered awards and has incredible patient relationships,” he said. “The board as a whole just dropped the ball here.”

Boreanaz said normally there would be an e-mail from a supervisor to the employee requesting them to address an issue. However, he said, zero documentation or details exist.

“In all my 30 years of representing executives and employees, this is the most vague, unsupported claims I have seen,” he said. “For the life of me I can’t imagine why the Board of Supervisors did not take a deeper dive and look into these things, and talk to people. Dr. Mason was never interviewed. Never asked to respond to some of these things. Never given an opportunity to hear his side.”

The Batavia Daily News reached out to WCCHS Board of Managers President Rich Kosmerl and Board of Supervisors Chairwoman Rebecca Ryan. Kosmerl had no comment. Ryan did not respond prior to press time.

Boreanaz said Dr. Mason and his orthopedic group, Buffalo Bone & Joint Surgery, provided orthopedic services to the hospital and its patients for close to eight years.

The WCCHS and Buffalo Bone & Joint Surgery entered into a contract in 2017. The Board of Supervisors vetted, considered and approved the contract terms. After a couple years, both parties felt it was working out and the board of supervisors again vetted, negotiated and approved an extension of the contract.

In 2019, Buffalo Bone & Joint Surgery made WCCHS $1.5 million in profit, Boneanaz said.

“Which, of course, that $1.5 million of profit in 2019 from the orthopedic group supported other hospital activities,” he said.

In 2020, the hospital saw a change in leadership as Joseph McTernan became the new CEO of WCCHS.

The Wyoming County Board of Supervisiors, which is financially responsible for the county-owned hospital, also saw a change in leadership. Supervisor Jerry Davis of Covington became chairman of the county’s Board of Supervisors in January 2020, before stepping down in September. Supervisor Rebecca Ryan of Warsaw — who had been the board’s deputy chairperson — then became the board’s chairwoman.

“Despite the impact to the hospitals by the pandemic, Mason’s group performed a number of surgeries commensurate with the 2019 year. Same level, slightly above actually,” Boreanaz, Dr. Mason’s lawyer, said. “In 2021, the number of surgeries performed by the orthopedic group again even higher than the year before.”

Boneanaz added, not only that but in 2021 Dr. Mason received the Joint Commission’s Advanced Hip and Knee Joint Replacement Certification. It is a very prestigious certification that only a few hospitals in the state receive, he said. After an audit, Dr. Mason received the accreditation in November 2021.

On Feb. 8, 2022, the hospital decided to terminate Mason’s contract. Boreanaz said, “the Board of Supervisors is collectively putting its head in the sand and distancing themselves from the decision,” in complete contrast to the board’s actions when they entered into the contract in 2017 and 2019. However, there is no resolution which terminates the contract in the Feb. 8, 2022 Board of Supervisors minutes.

Boreanaz said Dr. Mason has zero interest in pursuing litigation. His sole interest is to perform orthopedic surgeries at the highest level, and he would love to do it at WCCHS.

“Once the truth gets out, they’ll have to fold their cards. They are just hoping for this to get kicked down the road into a lawsuit, so they can deal with it two years from now,” Dr. Mason said. “I don’t want that, and I don’t think the community wants that. They just want their doctor back, and they want their surgeries.”

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