UPDATED – Healing Waters has gone through some rough waters in 2016, and it looks like some of the tumult will carry into 2017.
“This is the first Christmas I have no Christmas tree up,” says owner Amanda Gorecki. “It’s been hard.”
Gorecki is suing the former clinic director of the spa in Bradley Fair and has lost three physicians who practiced there. In all, six employees have left or were fired in relation to the issues. There are 33 employees who remain.
“It’s definitely been difficult, and we’ve had to do a lot of damage control with it,” Gorecki says.
Earlier this month, Gorecki filed a lawsuit in Sedgwick County District Court against Mignon Brewster, who joined the business in 2014 and was promoted to clinic director in January.
“We have strong, concrete data that during the time working for us, she was basically already violating her noncompete with us,” Gorecki alleges. “It was right within our building doing other work, building competing businesses.”
The lawsuit also alleges that while still employed, Brewster “refused to come to the Healing Waters facility in Wichita and answer questions about missing HIPAA records and HIPAA records that were discovered on the ground in the parking lot of Healing Waters’ Wichita facility.”
Brewster’s attorney, David Seely, won’t comment on the case.
“I prefer to defend my cases in court rather than in the newspaper.”
Nor would the three former Healing Waters physicians comment. Kenton Schoonover is now in practice elsewhere, and physicians Betty Troutman and Brynn Richardson have formed Troutman Richardson Medical Aesthetics Center at 10111 E. 21st St., which is just east of Webb Road.
Gorecki says Healing Waters is entering its 15th year and is doing well despite what’s been a major upheaval.
“This location is incredibly successful, and I think that’s why this happened,” she says. “They saw what we had and wanted it.”
Gorecki says she first started seeing “red flags in July, but it looks like it had been ongoing for some time before that.”
“Immediately when we had an inkling that this was going on, we immediately went to align with our strong relationships in Wichita.”
She says she and her husband, John, met with “physician leaders” in the community.
“My husband and I went and sat hours with them,” she says. “It was time-consuming, but it was the best thing we could have done.”
Gorecki says she also hired a chaplain to be with her staff for a week to bring calm and support. She says her staff needs to be well to treat the 45,000 to 50,000 people Healing Waters sees in a year.
“We had to really watch sort of the emotional level of our team.”
Gorecki says she’s experienced her own range of emotions, one of which might be surprising.
“I honestly feel so thankful,” she says.
“I feel like this has tested my leadership skills … and that was a good challenge.”
She adds, “Sometimes in a situation like this, it can be a blessing at the same time, and you can look to how to restructure and how to rebuild.”
Moving forward, Gorecki says she’s changing her relationships with physicians.
“We’d rather do more partnering than employing,” she says.
Previously, she says, she and the business took all the risk.
“We were funding them for everything, then they would come to work and be the doctor.”
Now, she’s partnering with plastic surgeon James Rieger, who has his own practice, to do work at Healing Waters.
Gorecki is looking at expanding with other partnerships that could bring new services to the business.
It’s been a “tricky” time, Gorecki says, and she’s spent the last four months commuting from her home in Atlanta, where she moved in 2009.
She also has a spa in South Carolina.
Gorecki says there’s no danger of the Wichita Healing Waters closing.
“No, no, no. The Wichita operation is our flagship. It’s our heartbeat.”