Vanderbilt’s Chief Medical Officer Faces Multiple Lawsuits 

19 Apr, 2024 F.J. Thomas


Sarasota, FL ( – The Orthopedic department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) is in quite the uproar, according to recent reports from Becker’s Spine Review

In February of last year, VUMC appointed Rick W. Wright, MD as Chief Medical Officer (CMO) and Senior Vice President for Clinical Affairs. Since his tenure as CMO, several lawsuits have been filed, two of which have been filed within the last month according to the Becker’s report. 

Specializing in orthopedic oncology, orthopedic surgeon Ginger Holt, MD joined VUMC in 2003 and became the Program Director and Vice Chair of Education. Dr. Holt identifies as gay, and contends in her employment discrimination lawsuit filed by HMC Civil Rights Law, that she was removed from her position and received a drastic cut in pay, despite top reviews from patients and exemplary performance. Filed shortly after Dr. Wright’s appointment, Dr. Holt alleges that her demotion was due to discrimination by Dr. Wright, based on her sexual orientation. While VUMC conducted an investigation into her complaints, Dr. Holt called the investigation “half-hearted”, which found no evidence of the alleged discrimination.

Dr. Wright’s former executive assistant, Lucille Mongogna has also filed a lawsuit earlier this month, contending gross professional misconduct, in addition to discrimination. According to a Nashville Scene report, Wright allegedly would slam doors, as well as yell at and berate staff. The report states that per the affidavit, “Dr. Wright would also aggressively gesticulate while yelling at me while I was cornered at my desk, causing significant fear.” Mongogna additionally contends that Dr. Wright attempted to bribe her with $500 cash after reporting the incidents to a superior administrator and VUMC human resources.

Adult Reconstructive Orthopedic Surgery specialist, Christen Wilhelm Hoedt, MD, was previously employed by VUMC. In 2022, Dr. Hoedt received an Excellence in Patient Experience award for ranking in the top 10 percent nationally in patient experience. Dr. Hoedt filed a lawsuit last month alleging that Dr. Wright and peer Greg Polkowski, MD, blackballed him for his refusing to use surgical devices during surgery that Polkowski would potentially receive payment for. According to CMS records, Dr. Polkowski, has received royalty and consulting payments related to joint implants for several years from Encore Medical. 

According to the Nashville Scene, VUMC did not respond to their request for comment on the lawsuits. 

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    About The Author

    • F.J. Thomas

      F.J. Thomas has worked in healthcare business for more than fifteen years in Tennessee. Her experience as a contract appeals analyst has given her an intimate grasp of the inner workings of both the provider and insurance world. Knowing first hand that the industry is constantly changing, she strives to find resources and information you can use.

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