SWMC and Dr. Lamberto O. Flores have entered into an agreement whereby Dr. Flores is no longer an employee of SWMC, but will continue his medical practice of obstetrics and gynecology at his current location until May 31.
By JESSICA CRAWFORD
• Leader & Times
After more than a month of discussions and court hearings involving the termination of Dr. Lamberto Flores, OB/GYN, an agreement has been reached between Southwest Medical Center and Flores. He will remain at the current location – an extension of SWMC – and utilize hospital privileges until May 31. Flores will then be opening a private practice in Liberal when his affiliation with SWMC comes to an end.
On Jan. 31, Flores was informed by SWMC that he would no longer be employed by the hospital. However, he was told he had until May 31 to practice at his current location of 555 West 15th Street. However, the hospital attempted to close Flores’ practice early on Feb. 21.
On Feb. 18, a temporary restraining order granted by District Judge Bradley Ambrosier banned Southwest Medical Center from closing the doors to Dr. Lamberto Flores’ medical practice.
During a Feb. 23 temporary injunction hearing, Flores cited three reasons responsible for his termination when questioned by his attorney Grant Shellenberger.
The three reasons, Flores said on the stand, were a circumcision issue, his image and a lack of passion.
Flores did not elaborate on the circumcision issue, however, he said it had been resolved – as far as he knew. He added, to his knowledge, no malpractice charges have been filed nor has any money been paid out as a result of the issue.
In regards to his image, Flores said he would wear a ball cap and had his Bluetooth at his ear. He said he was told his image was “hindering or hampering” his practice.
The reasons for termination, Flores said, were provided for him in a letter given to him by Vice President of Physician Services Rob Trivett on Jan. 31.
When Flores learned SWMC intended to close his office on Feb. 21, he then was prompted to instruct his attorney to file the Feb. 18 temporary restraining order.
According to the order, “the Court finds that irreparable harm is likely to be suffered by Plaintiff if Defendant is allowed to immediately close Plaintiff’s medical practice, and a temporary restraining order should therefore issue.”
During the Feb. 23 hearing, Judge Ambrosier ordered a continuance on the matter in hopes SWMC and Dr. Flores could come to an agreement on the issue. The continuance was scheduled for March 2, however, the two were able to come to an understanding.
In a joint press release from both parties, it was noted that an agreement has been made.
“Southwest Medical Center CEO and President Norm Lambert and Dr. Lamberto O. Flores announce today that they have entered into an agreement whereby Dr. Flores is no longer an employee of Southwest Medical Center, but will continue his medical practice of obstetrics and gynecology at his current location, 555 West 15th Street in Liberal until May 31, while continuing to have hospital privileges,” the release noted. “After that date, Dr. Flores will continue his OB/GYN practice, without interruption, at a location to be announced soon.
“We were able to come up with an amicable solution that will benefit not only Dr. Flores and Southwest Medical Center, but more importantly the patients we serve together,” the release continued.
As part of the agreement, neither the hospital or Dr. Flores will be speaking of the issue publically or privately, the release noted.
Flores recently told the Leader & Times he has no intentions to leave Liberal and does, in fact, plan to open a private practice.
“Right now, I am planning to go out on my own and start my own practice,” he said. “I am currently looking at (locations).”