Wednesday, May 01, 2024

Doctor's lawsuit accuses Freeman Health of age, sex discrimination, HIPAA violations

A lawsuit filed today in Jasper County Circuit Court by a fired otolaryngologist and plastic surgeon claims he was dismissed so another otolaryngologist, who also happened to be the chief medical officer's wife could add to her patient list.

In other claims in the petition, Dr. Nathan S. Box, who was with Freeman for 18 years, claims he was fired one day after reporting faulty procedures in scheduling elective surgeries and says that hospital employees violated his HIPAA rights.

Box's claims are detailed in the petition:

On July 1, 2005, Dr. Box began working at Freeman Health System (“Freeman”). In July 2020, Dr. Hallie Baker joined the medical practice at Freeman Ear Nose and Throat Center. Dr. Hallie Baker is married to Dr. David Baker, Chief Medical Officer of Freeman. Dr. Box is significantly older than Dr. Hallie Baker. Dr. Box is in a protected age category while Dr. Hallie Baker is not. Dr. Hallie Baker is a Woman; Dr. Box is a Man. 

 In December 2021, Freeman disciplined Dr. Box for using profanity behind closed doors during a private conversation overheard by a coworker who was standing at the door. In Dr. Box’s 18-year tenure with Freeman, he had never been formally disciplined, yet on this occasion Freeman forwent any Level 1 or 2 warnings and issued a Level 3 corrective action. 

Freeman placed Dr. Box on an 18-month probationary period. Despite this disciplinary action, in January 2022, Freeman expanded Dr. Box’s practice and gave him his own otolaryngic allergy clinic.

 On August 1, 2022, Dr. Box fractured his penis during sex with his girlfriend. In excruciating pain, Dr. Box went to Freeman’s ER, where he was required emergency surgery by a urologist directly after arrival to the emergency room. 

Within hours, the Freeman employee rumor mill churned with the news of Dr. Box's injury. 15. The news of Dr. Box’s fractured penis became so far traveled that he received a letter from Freeman acknowledging its failure to comply with HIPAA. Multiple coworkers informed Dr. Box they had heard about Dr. Box’s “dick breaking.” They should never have known about Dr. Box’s injury and treatment. 

\On December 11, 2022, Dr. Darwin Jeyaraj, an interventional cardiologist, performed elective surgery on a patient. Because of mistakes made by Dr. Jeyaraj and his surgical team, complications arose from the surgery causing the patient to cough up blood. 

Dr. Jeyaraj called Dr. Box to assist with the botched surgery because Dr. Box was the ENT/Facial Trauma surgeon on call for the weekend. Prior to arriving at the hospital, Dr. Box ordered a CT scan on the patient and identified the cause of the problem. 

Dr. Box didn’t hesitate to perform an emergency tracheotomy in the operating room when anesthesiology could not intubate the patient. This intervention ultimately saved the patient’s life. 

At the time, Dr. Box expressed serious concerns about why two elective cardiovascular surgeries had been scheduled on the same weekend day when there was only a skeleton crew to assist in the event of major complications that could cause death. 

Dr. Box told Freeman officials these elective surgeries should have been scheduled on a weekday, instead of on a weekend when Freeman had failed to provide adequate staffing for the surgeries. 

The next month, in January 2023, Dr. Box met with Freeman Chief Executive Officer Paula Baker and Dr. David Baker, Chief Medical Officer. Dr. David Baker falsely stated Dr. Box had more patient complaints in a 6-month period than any other doctor at Freeman. Paula Baker corrected Dr. David Baker about Dr. Box’s patient complaints. 

After the meeting ended, Dr. Box then proactively offered and scheduled to meet with Paula Baker to address any ongoing concerns regarding his practice. Dr. Box stated to Paula Baker that Dr. David Baker’s efforts to oust Dr. Box from Dr. Box’s position was a violation of Freeman’s own policy. Dr. Box told Paula Baker that Dr. David Baker’s efforts were a conflict of interests because Dr. David Baker’s wife– Dr. Hallie Baker– would assume many of Dr. Box’s patients if Dr. Box were terminated. 

At that time, Paula Baker agreed with Dr. Box about Dr. David Baker’s conflict of interest. On February 24, 2023, Dr. Box completed a report requested of him by a surgery peer review committee– a committee established under RSMo 537.035– that scrutinized the December 11, 2022 botched cardiovascular surgery. 

Dr. Box reiterated his concerns regarding the decision to schedule elective surgeries on the weekends because other staff and doctors are less readily available to assist in emergent circumstances. Dr. Box again reported that elective cardiovascular procedures should not be scheduled on weekends because patient care is compromised. 

Dr. Box reported that December 11, 2022 botched cardiovascular surgery was compounded because the only available cardiovascular surgeon on duty was also performing another elective cardiovascular surgery. 

Dr. Box recommended further discussions be held with other Freeman departments, including anesthesia which was understaffed because of the scheduled elective procedures, to avoid multidisciplinary system failures for which lack of coverage could have been very costly to quality care. 

One business day later, on February 27, 2023, Dr. Box met with Dr. David Baker and Mary Freher, Freeman’s Director of Human Resources. Upon entering the meeting and sitting down, Ms. Freher told Dr. Box “Freeman Health Systems is terminating you without cause.” 

Dr. Box kept asking what he did to deserve termination and neither Ms. Freher nor Dr. David Baker offered an explanation. Security escorted Dr. Box out of the building. 

After Dr. Box’s termination, Dr. Hallie Baker, spouse of Dr. David Baker, assumed about one-third of Dr. Box’s patients, which has been a boon to her practice. Dr. Box filed a charge of discrimination (Charge) with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights. Missouri Commission on Human Rights issued a right-to-sue letter; Dr. Box has exhausted his administrative remedies.

The petition also notes that Freeman has its employees sign non-compete clauses that do not allow him to practice within a 50-mile radius of Freeman, something which offers no competition in this area since Freeman is the only hospital offering an otolaryngologist.

The lawsuit notes that Box is seeking work that is likely to bring about legal action by Freeman.

Box also alleges Freeman violated his rights as a whistleblower.

Dr. Box engaged in protected activity—he reported serious misconduct to Freeman CEO Paula Baker about facility mismanagement and submitted a report on Freeman’s systemic provider failures to a peer review committee. 

Dr. Box is an employee of Freeman who reported to a proper authority unlawful acts of Freeman; and/or is an employee of Freeman who reported Freeman’s serious misconduct in violation of a clear mandate of public policy as articulated in a constitutional provision, statute, or regulation promulgated under statute; and/or refused to carry out directives issued by Freeman that if completed would be a violation of law. 

Freeman terminated Dr. Box one-business day after reporting and speaking up against their illegal activity. 

Freeman terminated Dr. Box for blowing the whistle on their illegal and unethical behavior.

The 10-count lawsuit also includes a defamation claim.

Freeman published one or more false and defamatory statements about Dr. Box: 

a. Freeman provided Dr. Box a service letter detailing false justifications for Dr. Box’s termination; 

b. Freeman employees and agents stated days after Dr. Box was fired that Dr. Box was terminated in relation to an ongoing “Medicare and Medicaid fraud investigation” that Freeman was subject to; 

c. In March 2023, a long-time patient of Dr. Box called to schedule an appointment with him at the Freeman Ear Nose and Throat Center at the phone number 417-347-6767. Upon answering the call, a Freeman female employee who schedules appointments informed the patient that Dr. Box “was no longer practicing,” causing the patient to believe Dr. Box had retired and stopped practicing medicine entirely. The patient was scheduled, instead, with Dr. Hallie Baker. 

As a direct result, Dr. Box has sustained emotional distress and pecuniary damages to his career, losing his job, potential patients, and damaged Dr. Box’s reputational standing among the Joplin and medical communities. 

Freeman acted intentionally.

Box is asking for a jury trial, damages, punitive damages and attorney fees. He is represented by Aaron Hadlow of Keenan and Bhatia, a Kansas City law firm, and Keegan Tinney of the Joplin law firm of Dreyer & Tinney.

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Anonymous said...

OMG-Is Freeman, its Administration and Doctors running a Reality Show - Age Discrimination, Sex Discrimination, Medicine, Sex, Rumors, HIPAA Violations, Broken Sex Organs, Patient Complaints, Multiple Lawsuits - Do we need to pay for another Billboard Sign - Promoting how Great Paula Baker is?

Paula Baker has turned Freeman into a Chit Show - Get her the HELL OUT OF THERE!

Anonymous said...

This one is gonna get interesting.

Anonymous said...

Freeman is a joke. Freher gets off on her own power trips of firing people and making up reasons. Baker needs to go and take her monster Freher with her and all the others as well. I hope Dr Box wins and then some! That whole system needs to go.

Anonymous said...

Now we know why Paula Baker is "retiring"

Anonymous said...

A handful of Bakers and a broken dick. Jasper County is not short on entertaining news stories!!!!!!

Anonymous said...

If only all the other stories could be shared. There is so much more to be told. I have PTSD from working there.

Anonymous said...

I would hope that this Article and all the Comments gets Posted to Freeman's Facebook Account and is Sent and Distributed to the Freeman Board of Directors, their Administration, their Doctors, and Staff, showing the disdain for the incompetent way Freeman Hospital is being ran.

Also, 5:33AM if you have Firsthand Information to share on Freeman - this is the Forum to share the Dirty Laundry. I have not seen this Lawsuit or Other Freeman Lawsuits in The Joplin Globe or other Local TV or Radio Mediums in Joplin - Why because Freeman Advertises and Promotes themselves in those Mediums and with dwindling Advertising Dollars the other Information Outlets are not going to Kill the Golden Advertising Goose.

So a shout out to Randy Turner of the Turner Report for Reporting the News, the Facts, and the Information that is happening in our surrounding area, when other Organizations Won't. Salute!

Madelyn Hoffman said...

Dr Box is hands down the most amazing Dr around. If I could figure out where he's practicing there's no distance that would keep me from taking my kids to him. He's the only one I fully hearted trust. As for the blBakers there is no doubt in my mind they acted intentionally to outs him. My son had surgery by Box just before he was fired. I was required to see Baker before the only other ENT in town I will let touch my kids would see him. Baker spent the apt bashing Box telling me everything wrong about him, calling him and myself and idiot for the choice we made on my son's surgery and going on about how she was the more superior choice. I was through with her the moment she opened her mouth. When I left I told them the shred out charts with out box in that office we were never coming back. The difference be tween her and Box is Nathan has loyal patients who will come back to him if we can get to him. She just has those who have no choice

Anonymous said...

The hospital knows all of it. The board & Paula are all guilty and they pay off people to cover their tracks.

Anonymous said...

Stay tuned folks! There is much more to this story. Just wait until Freeman tells their side!

Anonymous said...

Serious allegations, hard to believe something like this could have happened like the doctor claims.


One thing most smart people never say in the Four Corners: "No one could be that stupid!"

Anonymous said...

He’s not the only lawsuit on the table….they are trying to get rid of anyone with knowledge of their illegal activities….. time is up Paula

Anonymous said...

Someone needs to get FBI records. They’ve been served RECENTLY. Time to put all the cards on the table, Paula. Can’t hide forever.

Anonymous said...

Hi Mary Frerer!

Anonymous said...

this is some funny stuff. If anyone actually spoke with Dr. Box they would think twice about any type of treatment from him.....he was a "special" guy.

Anonymous said...

5:29AM, what are you trying to add to this Conversation about Freeman - Collusion, Mismanagement, Discrimination, Illegal Practices and Firings, HIPPA Violations, these are all very serious allegations - How would you like your Personal Information Released to your Co-Workers, Friends, and Etc.? Until Freeman realizes that their entire Organization needs a shack-up from the Top to the Bottom and Stop putting Yentas, into Positions that they are clearly Untrained and Uneducated to be in. Freeman needs to Financially Understand - Loose Lips Cause Large Payouts.

Freeman has been sued multiple times for HIPPA Violations - Just recently an Article in Turner Report Covered this on April 04, 2024.

Anonymous said...

I believe Dr. Box. Freeman is rampant with nepotism and favoritism.

Anonymous said...

That happened to my boyfriend and then a year later it happened to me!

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

You both fractured your penis'?

Anonymous said...

A lot of words & not necessary information here but once you get to the point at the end it’s nice.

Anonymous said...

Dear God- I pray Freeman has enough brains to appoint a new CEO with brains and morals. Paula has done a reasonably good job with the zoo there but this story troubles me that the CMO Dr. Dave Baker does things like this to promote his third wife.

Greed is a scary thing.

Conflict of Interest to put it mildly.

Anonymous said...

Is Dr. Hallie Baker board certified yet?

Anonymous said...

He is seeing patients in Nevada at NRMC.

Anonymous said...

As a former Freeman employee I can guarantee that it was normal practice to do non emergent CV cases on the weekends. Due to Feeman's incredibly inept Administration the once thriving Heart Program is now a joke, going from an average of 30 cases per month to only 75 per year now. Thank you Paula Baker and cohorts.

Anonymous said...

Freeman health system is probably the most corrupt organization in Joplin. Paula Baker’s ego is out of control with her face on so many billboards it’s a joke. As an employee of Freeman, if you don’t agree with her decisions and vision you are gone. She’s basically a healthcare Hitler and her nickname as the “velvet knife” is 100% accurate.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

I disagree that Paula is Freeman’s problem. She is the figurehead yes but the organization needs a complete overhaul.

Anonymous said...

omg lol. I hope to GOD that people see the truth that this David Baker fellow is not to be trusted. Protecting is (3rd) wife. OMG. you \have gotta be serious.

Anonymous said...

I disagree here.

Dave Baker is an of his depth DOUCHE but Paula has done the best she can. When the DOJ levels the place, perhaps Dr. Baker (Douche Baker) will be held accountable.

Anonymous said...

I’d suggest this patient file a complaint with the MO Board of Healing Arts against Hallie Baker, DO here:

This is absolutely unethical behavior and they’d want to know about so they can investigate this.

Anonymous said...

Paula Baker is the captain of the ship and the ship is sinking. During a meeting with staff that were reporting many safety issues her repy was "I trust the surgeons to do the right thing". The most idiotic reply any administrator could make. It is their job to make sure they DO the right thing.

Anonymous said...

Paula Baker is the CEO and she is ultimately responsible to make sure the hospital gives safe, quality patient care. Something she has failed at miserably.

Anonymous said...

He’s amazing in Nevada

Anonymous said...

So first of all, we have seen since 2006. Are hole family seen him I can not believe this. This crap with FREEMAN HAS TO STOP. I hope that they all get what they need like there A** out of there. My family has to drive a hour but that’s ok because he is the best ENT EVER. The dr that has took over needs GONE. Me and my family will stand behind DR. Box

Anonymous said...

I agree with most of these. Let’s clean house at Freeman. The Dave baker and wives swamp is in Dior need of repair.

Anonymous said...

lol. Yes. As a current Freeman employee, his flightly presence around the Freeman campus is as especially egregious display of flamboyance and laughable disgrace. Lol

Anonymous said...

Just found out that one of the previous Radiologist John Williams is spreading untrue stories about someone that blew the whistle for Medicare fraud. This type of activity is just sickening.

Anonymous said...

My grandchild saw Box and it was pure hell! Ann compassion or patience. Spent more time bad mouthing others, including his girlfriend. Totally inappropriate conversation to have in front of patients. Took her to Dr. Hallie Baker for follow up and entirely different. She was treated with kindness and compassion!! Won’t go to anyone else except Dr. Hallie now!

Anonymous said...

Maybe he’s still trying to be relevant? Isn’t he like 76 years old and barren?