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Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Bishop Jenky Haitian Hearts Meeting---February, 2003

Bishop Jenky Haitian Hearts Meeting—February 5, 2003

While I was in Haiti in January, 2003, the Catholic Diocese organized a new Haitian Hearts committee. Monsignor Rohlfs and Patricia Gibson were the individuals most involved in organizing this. Haitian Hearts had been put on suspension by OSF after I picketed the hospital for their lack of respect for Haitian lives. I returned from Haiti with no kids to operate even though many needed surgery.

The new committee was filled with OSF corporate people, administrators, and various other individuals. Most knew absolutely nothing how Haitian Hearts worked, how we evaluated patients in Haiti, how we kept them alive in Haiti, how we transported them to the United States and arranged for host families in Peoria to keep them, and how we transported them back to Haiti after their surgeries, and how we raised funds for Children’s Hospital of Illinois. My brother Tom and his wife Diane were there and Haitian Hearts coordinator Anne Wagenbach was invited also. Anne is an RN at OSF and had essentially done everything for Haitian kids over the years. Keith Steffen had threatened to sue her two years before when she attempted to have a petition to save my job when Steffen was getting ready to fire me.

At the start of the meeting, Bishop Jenky and Monsignor Rohlfs mentioned a couple of times that the “Diocese did not want egg on its face” and mentioned Caterpillar. The Bishop also mentioned the Capital Campaign which is the fund raising campaign for the Catholic Diocese. What these statements meant regarding the Haitian kids with congenital heart defects was confusing. During the meeting I was able to speak for about five minutes and told the group what OSF had meant to the Carroll family over the last 100 years in Peoria. I also asked Sister Judith Ann if she thought Haitian kids were safe at OSF. (I felt that Haitian kids were not being operated in a timely fashion at OSF the previous year.) She did not answer and actually said nothing at the meeting. Monsignor Rohlfs cut me off pretty quickly. He assigned jobs to everyone in the room except Anne Wagenbach. Anne was seated next to Monsignor Rohlfs and asked him how much the Diocese was going to donate to CHOI for Haitian Hearts. Rohlfs replied “nothing”. We were all getting a crash course in how the leaders of the Catholic Diocese of Peoria actually lead.

My brother Tom asked Bishop Jenky if I could return to Haiti then and bring back a few kids for life saving surgery. Bishop Jenky said that would not be a good idea.
Bishop Jenky spent 45 minutes with us during the 60 minute meeting and that was the last we ever saw of him as the new "director" of Haitian Hearts. Patricia Gibson assured us that the next meeting would be in a few weeks. Unfortunately, the next meeting did not occur until July 16, 2003, and at that meeting the Diocese withdrew all support from Haitian Hearts and the children that needed surgery in Peoria.

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