The following letter was sent to Nashua Mayor Jim Donchess by a Nashua Public Health nurse this summer calling out bad behavior by the Nashua Director of Public Health Bobbie Bagley.
Dear Mayor Donchess, August 15, 2020
I am a per diem nurse working with the Public Health Department helping to run the COVID drive-thru clinics around the City of Nashua. I have been with the department since April and I have waited much of the summer trying to decide if I should bring forward my concerns re: Bobbie Bagley, Director of the Public Health Department for the City of Nashua.
I submit this complaint with the utmost respect for Bobbie Bagley’s position, education and her years of dedication to the City of Nashua. However, there have been multiple incidents of inappropriate behavior and comments, to outright dangerous decisions that put her nurses and the staff running the COVID clinics, at risk.
I wasn’t sure which moment would be the “I’ve had enough moment” but now with the abrupt departure of Mark Munroe (Public Health Emergency Preparedness Coordinator), I can no longer be silent. We lost a man with 30 years of emergency preparedness experience, in the middle of a pandemic, because no one dares to speak up.
I am saddened to report having witnessed on numerous occasions, the manner in which she speaks to Mark Munroe, was condescending and demeaning. From her facial expressions and snide comments, to her hand gestures and body language, her behavior is not becoming for her personally or as a representative of the City of Nashua. She yells, points, throws her hands in the air, mocks and gossips.
Also concerning is her willingness to disregard the health and safety of her nurses and staff that run the COVID clinics during this excessively hot summer. On several occasions I suggested the clinics should be moved to parking garages to protect staff from the direct sun. She said COVID clinics could not be held in parking garages because there wasn’t enough circulation.
Knowing this not to be true, I provided several examples of COVID clinics around the country running their clinics in parking garages, however I never received a reply from Bobbie. Many others, including Mark Munroe, Heidi Peek, the CERT team, the safety officer, several nurses, several members of the fire department, also suggested the same to no avail. Finally, on July 9, 2020 when the heat index reached 105 degrees, several city officials, including the safety officer, reached out to Bobbie to say the excessive heat conditions were too dangerous for the staff and should be postponed. She refused and the clinic proceeded. I was there that day and for myself the most upsetting part of this particular clinic, was the fact that she was 20 minutes late with the cooler. To explain, a clinic cannot begin until the cooler is present because the swab samples cannot exceed a certain temperature. Bobbie usually brings the cooler so we can get started.
Firstly, I was appalled that the clinic was happening with a 105-degree heat index. This is dangerous for everyone. Secondly, we stood waiting, donned in our PPE in the excessive heat, for an extra 20 minutes due to her tardiness. Thirdly, there was a line of approximately 50 citizens of the City of Nashua, waiting in their cars or standing in line outside in the excessive heat (many of them elderly). The liability to the city on this item alone is a concern. People expect safe conditions at city events. And fourth, not one word of apology for arriving late to a clinic which she insisted must proceed.
During the July 9th clinic, several staff members and members of CERT, were sent home due to early symptoms of heat exhaustion. Bobbie became frustrated with the slow registration line to which Mark told her “my staff is dropping like flies.” In response to his comment, she turned around, made a flapping gesture with her hands and repeated his statement in a loud mocking manner “oh my staff is dropping like flies.” Several of the other staff heard and saw this and I was stunned to see such behavior from a director.
It was a miserable clinic in the direct sun and for several clinics before that, I have gone home with a migraine and needed sleep for up to three hours trying to recover from the heat. There were several complaints due to this July 9th clinic and parameters moving forward were set by Mike Apollo (Emergency Management Coordinator).
The clinics were finally moved into the parking garage at Elm Street and a Heat Plan was developed by Nashua Emergency Management, Justin Kates and Mike Apollo. A 90-degree maximum was determined for safe working conditions for all staff involved with the clinics. Also provided for were provisions to make sure several city officials were part of the decision – not just one person dictating. My understanding was the incident commander would have the final say.
Fast forward to Tuesday August 11, 2020 and Thursday, August 13, 2020, the heat indexes reached 102 and 101-degrees respectively. Once again, several city officials reached out to Bobbie with the same recommendations to cancel. Once again Bobbie did not adhere to the excessive heat recommendations and insisted that the clinics move forward. Once again, Bobbie is seen speaking to Mark disrespectfully at both clinics.
Additionally, on July 9th when one of the CERT team members went home due to heat exhaustion, it was discovered that CERT is not covered by the city insurance. CERT was under the impression that they have been covered by the city’s insurance for the last seven years. Jen from Risk recently notified them this was not the case. As a result, CERT can no longer participate in the clinics due to the lack of insurance coverage. The CERT division is more than willing to re-engage for this mission but cannot until this is resolved. They asked Bobbie for her support, but she still has not taken the necessary steps to find a solution for their insurance coverage. This is unfortunate as their participation made the clinic process seamless.
Mayor Donchess, I apologize for the length of this letter and the degree of frustration, but I can say with utmost certainty, I’m representing the overall frustrations of the Public Health Department. Many have contributed to the contents of this letter and I am told “this has been going on for a long time.”
These are comments I’ve heard made by staff:
- She’s a micromanager
- She can be very vindictive
- She needs a lot of accolades
- She speaks to us like children
- She’s driven a lot of people out
- Only her ideas are the good ones
- If she doesn’t like you, you’ll be gone
- We’ve been putting up with this for years
- No one speaks up because everyone is afraid of her
I am only a per diem nurse and if speaking out on their behalf costs my job, then so be it. I am much less concerned about my position than for the fantastic Public Health Department staff you have working for the City of Nashua. Your Public Health Department staff is working 24/7 through this pandemic and they don’t feel supported. Not only do they not feel supported, they don’t feel appreciated and in fact, feel disrespected.
The departure of Mark Munroe is the most devastating consequence of this frustration. He is the main coordinator for these clinics and his absence will be felt by all. I could go on with several other examples, but those examples are things I’ve only heard and not witnessed myself.
I encourage you to reach out to other members of Public Health, so they have the opportunity to have a voice. Bobbie is truly operating with absolute power and it’s putting the health and safety of the staff at risk. I was born in Nashua and will probably die in Nashua – I love this city and I want to see the people who are tirelessly powering through this challenging time, be celebrated. That is not happening under Bobbie’s leadership.
I am available to speak with you anytime if you would like. I can provide you with several names of people who would like to speak with you.
I thank you for your time.