This story sends a pall over the whole medical profession. It also re-affirms faith in love.
Carol Jumper had worked full time for twelve years for oral surgeon George Visnich, Jr., DMD.
His practice didn’t cover her health insurance, she paid for her own through the Affordable Care Act.
Now she won’t be able to afford to do that.
One week after telling her long-term employer of her cancer diagnosis (ovaries, pancreas, and liver), he sent a registered letter to her home terminating her employment, citing his belief that:
“You will not be able to function in my office at the level required while battling for your life. Because of this, I am laying you off without pay.”
He hasn’t spoken to her since.
Jumper’s fiancé Dennis Smerigan recalls his response:
“I was pissed when I read that letter. No kind of man sends a letter like that.”
Jumper’s sister and friend were incredulous and indignant, circulating copies of the letter and posting it on Facebook–it understandably went viral. Local news agency, the Beaver Countian, got wind of the story. When a journalist contacted Dr. Visnich’s office for an interview, he was met with a curt dismissal of “he is in surgery all day”.
A “Humanitarian Thing”
In an interview with The Times of Beaver, Pennsylvania, the surgeon’s attorney said the matter was misunderstood. His intentions were pure, a “humanitarian thing”. By laying off Ms. Jumper, she would be able to collect Unemployment Insurance benefits
“with the understanding that when she is feeling better, she can come back to work. Very disappointing, in that he’s trying to help this woman and he’s made out to be a villain”.
A more humanitarian thing would have been to discuss options with her face-to-face.
In the meantime, Carol doesn’t want to waste energy worrying about her former employer; the letter is correct in stating that she is in a fight for her life. She prefers to have the furor fizzle so she can concentrate on getting well; chemotherapy treatments have left her weak and feeling terrible.
Human Spirit Prevails
Local groups like Bumper’s Buddies are holding fundraisers in efforts to help support Carol, financially and otherwise. Her greatest support comes from her fiancé:
“She has no income coming in at all, I am trying to bust my butt for her. A lot of people have been very helpful, it’s unreal. We were engaged before her diagnosis and we had a date set next year for our wedding. If she starts getting really sick then it is going to happen sooner… it might have to happen a lot sooner. I am going to marry her.”
Compassion, generosity, and love have come to overshadow callousness, cowardice, and ingratitude. May Carol’s journey result in full healing and triumph over pain and hardship. Then she can lift her head and smile as she tells her ex-boss to stick it.
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