“Cease and desist, Mr. Gillick…” said Wuesthoff Attorney Karen Davila.
The General Counsel for Wuesthoff Health Systems called the office of Protect Our Children May 5, to ask the group to stop trying to contact Johnette Gindling the corporation’s Vice President of Public Relations. The request came after an eighteen-month effort to determine why Gindling ordered the local charity to stop distributing their publication The Guardian Brevard, at all Wuesthoff facilities.
The Guardian was given the boot, days after Wuesthoff Nurse Joanne Pratt went before the Palm Bay City Council, to protest proposed ordinances aimed at restricting sex offenders. Wuesthoff’s Marketing Director Stephanie Bacon called P.O.C. in October 2005 asking that we stop distributing the Guardian at Wuesthoff. The notification newspaper has been made available to staff and patients at the corporation’s Rockledge hospital for over eight years.
Bacon denied that the request was connected to Pratt’s molester rights activities. She said all publications were being removed except Florida Today Newspaper, which is provided free of charge to Wuesthoff patients.
However, Guardian staff received an anonymous call in July 2006, from a woman who said she was a Wuesthoff employee. The caller said hospital officials had not removed any publication but the Guardian.
Bacon was contacted again to ask about the call, and said only publications that had advertising for Wuesthoff were allowed to distribute under the new policy. Later that day, a volunteer visited the lobby of Wuesthoff’s Rockledge facility and found six publications on display – none contained an ad for Wuesthoff.
Protect Our Children sent a fax to Gindling in August 2006, offering to run a free ad for Wuesthoff in order to reinstate the publication in their lobby. The offer was rejected.
Bacon said the removal of the Guardian was the result of a memorandum published by Gindling and said we would have to speak directly to her. Guardian staff left more than fifty messages with Gindling’s secretary over a two-month period, but the V.P. refused to return our calls.
Wuesthoff’s Attorney said The Guardian was harassing their staff and asked us to stop inquiring about the publication’s removal. Davila phoned the group one day after Wuesthoff lawyers were rebuked in their attempt to block construction of a new hospital in Viera, after the contract for the facility was awarded to a competing company.
Protect Our Children continues to receive calls from Wuesthoff employees asking why the notification newspaper is no longer available. Davila said Wuesthoff had a right to disallow distribution of any printed materials, and was not compelled to give any reason for its decision.
However, Wuesthoff employees who have contacted The Guardian insist the ban was the result of Nurse Pratt’s highly publicized activities in the Fall of 2005. Pratt appeared before the Palm Bay City Council on October 10, 2005, wearing her Wuesthoff I.D. badge, after helping to assemble a cadre of pedophiles and sex offenders to protest city ordinances restricting their movement. Pratt left a voice message on Protect Our Children’s main line, in which she identifies herself as “a nurse at Wuesthoff Health Systems Melbourne.” She asked for a return call and gave the number for her office in the hospital’s Wickham Road facility. The next day, Director Bacon said that the call was not official, and that employees were not allowed to use hospital facilities to conduct personal business.
Pratt lied on a nationally televised program when she was questioned about her husband’s offenses. She appeared on the television program “The O’Reilly Factor”, along with her husband, sex offender William Pratt Jr., on the eve of the molester rights march . The Pratts answered simultaneously, when O’Reilly asked about Bill’s victim. They said his victim was a twelve year-old boy.
Guardian volunteers researched Pratt’s criminal record, and found he had been sent to prison in New Jersey for molesting two children, a boy and a girl. Both were age nine at the time of the assaults. He was indicted by a grand jury on twelve counts of child sex offenses. Nurse Pratt told O’Reilly that her husband was a “kind and loving man…”
A spokesman for Wuesthoff’s Human Resources Department said Joanne Pratt is employed in their Medical Education Section. She said employees who are caught passing out The Guardian Brevard would be subject to disciplinary action, and repeat offenders could be fired, pursuant to Gindling’s order.
The Guardian Brevard is still available in other hospitals in Brevard. Health First makes the child-protection newspaper available to staff and patients in two places at their Cape Canaveral Facillity. Wuesthoff’s Rockledge employees can pick up a copy of the quarterly paper at the Rockledge Police Department on Barton Boulevard, as well as the Public Safety Center, on Florida Avenue.