Fired nurse featured in hospital newsletter as star employee



Posted on April 15, 2010 at 10:17 PM

SEATTLE - A nurse at Northwest Hospital was fired while doing relief work in the Phillippines. Then months after her termination, she's featured in a hospital newsletter as a star employee.

"I started doing volunteer work in 1999," says Sue Averill. "I fell in love with it. I love the people and the doing. It's very, very hard work."

For the last 6 years, the 54-year-old Seattle woman spent about half her year volunteering as a nurse overseas with Doctors without Borders. She's been to Darfur, Ethiopia, Uganda, and the Sudan.

The rest of her time she spent working as an E.R. nurse at Northwest Hospital - that was until her mission during Typhoon Kestsana in the Philippines last fall.

"I was astonished," said Averill. "It was nothing I expected."

The surprising news came in an e-mail. Averill describes what was written.

"There had been a change in the leave-of-absense policy. And my leave of absense would no longer be accepted and I was terminated," she said.

An even bigger shock came this spring. Months after she was fired, the hospital touted her relief work in the feature article of an employee newsletter.

Northwest Hospital declined to comment about Averill's firing, saying personnel issues are confidential.

But Averill says the newsletter article added insult to injury.

"I think this is just using me to get some PR," she said.

In a radio interview with KUOW, hospital spokesperson Karen Peck said the article was written before Averill's termination.

"It was an error on our part, but it certainly wasn't meant to hurt anybody," said Peck. "It was meant to showcase another one of our employees who does something great out there."

Averill doesn't want an apology.

"I just want my job back," she said.