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Suit alleging former Wake Forest doctor ruined woman's chances of getting pregnant dismissed, for now

Attorneys for a woman who alleged that a former doctor at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center inserted a device that prevented the woman from getting pregnant have dropped a lawsuit but reserve the right to re-file it in the future, according to court documents.

Kimberly Bryant of Cabarrus County filed the lawsuit in Forsyth Superior Court on Sept. 21, 2017, against Dr. Mehmet Tamer Yalcinkaya, Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, Wake Forest University Health Services and N.C. Baptist Hospital. The lawsuit accused Yalcinkaya, former director of Baptist’s reproductive endocrinology and infertility, of inserting a birth-control device during a surgery to remove uterine fibroids. Bryant claimed she told Yalcinkaya that she wanted to have children and that Yalcinkaya never told her about the device, even after the device expired in 2012.

The lawsuit said that Bryant didn’t find out about the device until Feb. 21, 2017, when she had surgery after the device broke in two. She alleges she was told by one of the surgeons that she would have to have a hysterectomy.

Yalcinkaya and Wake Forest Baptist have denied the allegations and filed motions to dismiss the lawsuit. Those motions were scheduled to be heard Monday in Forsyth Superior Court. But Bryant’s attorneys, Harvey and Harold Kennedy and Donna Taylor, filed a notice of voluntary dismissal without prejudice on Friday. That means that the lawsuit can be re-filed within a year.

The attorneys said in a statement that they filed the voluntary dismissal because of new information.

“In light of this additional information, we intend to re-file Kimberly Bryant’s case soon,” they said in the statement.

Tamura Coffey, an attorney for Yalcinkaya, declined to comment and referred a Winston-Salem Journal reporter to Yalcinkaya’s motion to dismiss. John Kocher, an attorney for Wake Forest Baptist, did not immediately return a message seeking comment.

In court papers, attorneys for Yalcinkaya and Baptist said Bryant did not follow the North Carolina Rules of Civil Procedure in having an expert review medical care and medical records. They said the expert would have to be willing to testify that the medical care did not “comply with the applicable standard of care.” They also argued that the lawsuit wasn’t specific enough about the allegations of fraudulent concealment. Yalcinkaya’s attorneys said that Bryant failed to state what Yalcinkaya had to gain from allegedly withholding information from her.

According to the lawsuit, Bryant went to the Center for Reproductive Medicine at Wake Forest Baptist in 2007 where Yalcinkaya determined Bryant had uterine fibroids. Yalcinkaya scheduled a surgery for Oct. 5, 2007. The lawsuit said Bryant told Yalcinkaya that she wanted to remain fertile and that she and her husband wanted to have children.

The lawsuit alleges that Yalcinkaya never told Bryant about the device, even when it expired on April 21, 2012. Then on Feb. 21, 2017, Bryant became sick and had surgery at Wake Forest Baptist, the lawsuit said. The plastic barrier had split into two parts. According to the lawsuit, Dr. Erica Johnston, one of the surgeons, told Bryant: “I am outraged; and you should be outraged too.”

Johnston told Bryant she would have to have a hysterectomy.

Yalcinkaya has specifically denied that the device was an IUD and has said it is a FDA-approved product that has been used to prevent infertility and scar tissue from forming back. Yalcinkaya had been the director of reproductive endocrinology and infertility at Baptist and is now practice founder of Carolinas Fertility Institute, which has offices in Winston-Salem, Greensboro and Charlotte. Yalcinkaya’s medical license remains active.

Company's lack of minorities may lead city to take over fair's marketing

The Winston-Salem City Council may handle promoting the Dixie Classic Fair with its own forces after concerns about a private company’s lack of racial diversity had half the council ready to reject all bids on the promotional efforts during Monday’s meeting of the council.

In a rare move, Mayor Allen Joines cast the deciding vote to break a tie and send the issue back to the council’s Finance Committee.

That committee will hear an in-depth presentation from city staffers on how the city would promote the fair using its own employees.

The dramatic vote came at the end of a meeting with an otherwise light agenda. A company called Wildfire LLC, based in Winston-Salem, was the recommended company to get a three-year contract worth $690,000 to handle promotional and marketing efforts for the Dixie Classic Fair, with the option of extending the contract another three years for a total of $1.38 million over six years.

Demographic information that Wildfire had provided to the city showed that among the company’s 32 employees, all were white. Wildfire has handled fair promotion for the past three years. The company sent no representative to Monday’s council meeting, city officials said.

Council Member Derwin Montgomery, who raised the concern about Wildfire’s lack of diversity last week during Finance Committee discussion, made the motion Monday to reject the bids of Wildfire and other companies that had asked for the work, and instead do the fair promotion in-house.

Montgomery explained after Monday’s meeting that his concern was that with no minorities in the design of the marketing campaign, a company could make missteps that would hurt marketing in the black community. As an example, Montgomery cited the Ram Trucks ad in the Super Bowl  that featured the words of Martin Luther King Jr., to the displeasure of some viewers.

Council Member D.D. Adams seconded Montgomery’s motion and said that city administrators had determined that the city could do the promotion and save money to boot by doing the work at a lower cost.

Some on the council questioned the suddenness of the move:

“I would like to know what our plan is in-house,” Council Member Robert Clark said. Council Member Jeff MacIntosh questioned the wasted effort to bring the contract proposals to the council if the result in the end was to reject all the bids.

Council Member John Larson made a substitute motion to send the matter back to Finance, and Clark seconded that. When Larson’s motion came to a vote, council members Dan Besse, Clark, Larson and MacIntosh were in favor of sending the matter to committee, and members Adams, Vivian Burke, Montgomery and James Taylor were opposed — and ready to do the promotions in house instead of accepting a contract with Wildfire.

Joines, noting the lack of urgency — the fair doesn’t start until Sept. 28 — decided to break the tie by voting in favor of the substitute motion to send the matter to committee.

Yet another wrinkle in the discussion was the displeasure of Montgomery and Taylor with a proposal from Wildfire that would have subcontracted some of the advertising to the Winston-Salem Chronicle as part of Wildfire’s effort to gain more minority participation in the deal.

The Chronicle is a newspaper that serves the black community. It is also owned by company of which Montgomery and Taylor serve as managing directors.

Angela Carmon, the city attorney, had told Montgomery and Taylor that they could not vote on awarding the contract to Wildfire because of their interest in the Chronicle, but Montgomery told the council Monday that the paper would not accept any money for fair advertising from Wildfire so that he and Taylor could vote.

Taylor called Wildfire’s listing of the Chronicle “inhumane and uncivilized” for its potential to “silence two voices” on the council.

City Manager Lee Garrity said that when Wildfire was putting together its proposal to promote the fair, it had proposed subcontracting at least 10 percent of the work to companies owned by women or racial minorities. Garrity said the company proposed having two women-owned companies involved in design of the promotion.

Wildfire, Garrity said, was proposing to subcontract some of the advertising work to the Chronicle, Que Pasa, a Spanish-language newspaper, and Triad Moms on Main.

Without spending money with the Chronicle, Garrity said Monday night, Wildfire could not meet its minority-participation goal, but could have still qualified for the contract if it demonstrated a good-faith effort.

Wildfire was one of four companies that had tried for the fair contract. Garrity said the council could not have chosen another company over Wildfire solely based on the company’s racial makeup, but that the council can always choose to reject all bids.

Winston-Salem police sergeant was hero to many

Even after all this time, Bailey Howard Jr. still finds the story funny.

Years ago, decades in fact, the careers of he and his father Bailey Howard — both officers in the Winston-Salem Police Department — overlapped for a short while.

In the mid-1970s, the senior Howard was a sergeant with nearly 30 years’ experience. The younger Howard was a new guy following his dad’s footsteps.

Because they shared a name, signals could get crossed, particularly with things that involved impersonal paperwork or phone messages.

“I was there for three years while Dad was there,” Howard Jr. said. “Back then when we went to court, it was off duty and we got paid $8. They paid him my $8 one day, and he went around saying ‘I got a raise today.’ He got my court pay. And I didn’t get it back, either.”

He laughed some while he was telling that story Monday morning as it was a day for remembering.

Bailey Howard Sr. — Sgt. Howard in formal occasions, “Babe” in more relaxed settings — died Friday. His funeral service was held Monday afternoon. He was 96.

More than doing a duty

Bailey Howard Sr. was born in Winston-Salem in 1921 and, save for his time fighting in Europe with the U.S. Army during World War II, he was a lifelong resident.

Like a lot of men from that generation,he wouldn’t say much about his service other than he did his duty when he was asked.

“He’d say things about getting liberty in Paris with a three-day pass, but he wouldn’t talk about any of the rest,” his son said.

When the war broke out, the elder Howard was working at the Norfolk Naval Yard, and because his job was considered vital, he would have been exempt from the draft. Instead, he quit his job and volunteered.

“But as far as fighting, he was in the Army, the infantry, and I know he went through France, Belgium and Germany,” Howard Jr. said.

When his father got home at the end of the war, Howard Jr. said, he was ready to get on with his life. He married his wife, Lettie Mae Kimel, in 1946 and worked for the R.J. Reynolds Tobacco Co. “for about a day and a half.

“He said he didn’t want to shovel tobacco for the rest of his life,” Howard Jr. said.

Reynolds’ loss was the city’s gain. Howard Sr. went to work for the Winston-Salem Police Department later in 1946. There, he worked about every job available from patrol to the motorcycle squad to detective division to leading the warrants squad.

When he retired in 1977, he told a Journal reporter that he had no complaints and that he city “has been really good to us.”

Howard Jr., a retired police lieutenant, said that sounded like his father.

“Dad was quiet,” he said. “Funny story, when he was on the street, he never got in a hurry. Some of the guys would tell me they’d get an emergency call and the young officers would go flying up U.S. 52 with blue lights and siren and they’d see Dad, also with his blue lights and siren, but going about 45 miles an hour.

“But I was amazed at how many people said he was the best sergeant they ever worked for. He always cared about his men.”

A lifelong example

In retirement, the Howards and five other couples — all from Winston-Salem, several of the men retired police officers — found a spot they liked at the beach near Garden City, S.C. in a trailer park called Windjammer Village.

“At night they’d cook out and sit around, maybe having a toddy or two,” Howard Jr. said. “They said that’s how you kept the mosquitoes from bothering you.”

They also told stories about the “old days” being a cop in Winston-Salem, the camaraderie of a shared lifetime of service — and pride in having done so — shining through at all times.

During one visit to their spot at the beach, Howard Sr. and a very close friend Lonnie “Smitty” Smith, also a retired police sergeant, saw a man breaking into a building at the park and chased after him.

“Dad asked Smitty if he had his gun with him and Smitty said ‘I got my pants on, don’t I?” Howard Jr. said. “These two old officers got this guy on the ground with a gun pointed at him. And when the regular police got there, this guy was so thankful he said ‘I thought these two old guys were going to kill me.”

Growing up around police officers, hearing the stories and seeing the esteem in which they held his father made Howard Jr. decide to take the same career path.

“For the 27 years I was at the police department, I always tried to live up to his reputation, but I’m afraid I fell short,” Howard Jr. said.

In recent years, Howard Sr. really got a kick out of being the oldest living police retiree. But the best times for Howard Jr. and his sister, Vickie Howard, came when Sgt. Howard was just being Dad. Howard Sr. liked his golf and loved spending time with his family.

“He wasn’t a hero in the normal sense of the word, but let me assure you he was a hero to me, my sister, my mother and to many other police officers who were fortunate enough to have served under him,” Howard Jr. said.

“We had him for a lot of years. We were really fortunate.”

Ellen or Steve Harvey show for W-S kids? Carter High School students hope sweet song makes connection

Belief versus disbelief.

Courage versus discourage.

Ability versus disability.

The simple subtraction of three little letters “d-i-s” is the keystone to Carter High School’s new campaign in redefining disabilities.

It could also be their ticket to the world stage as the special needs high school students strive to share their message of inclusiveness with a newly recorded song “We are Connected.”

“We think our message is one a much larger audience needs to hear,” Carter Principal Donna Horton-Berry said. “If you focus on the abilities instead of the disabilities, man, that’s magic.”

The song was recorded by 30 students in early February as a way to show that people with special needs are just like everyone else.

It has already garnered interest from the “Ellen” and “Steve Harvey” shows, said teacher Carla Morris-Scott, who spearheaded the creation of the song.

“We’re corresponding with both shows, so we’ll be going to one or both of those,” she said. “What this campaign stands for, what it represents, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

The “No dis” campaign was coined by the school last summer to transform negative words, like disloyal, disrespect and disconnect, into more positive thoughts without the prefix, Morris-Scott said.

The song then evolved as a way of getting the message out into the community.

The school’s 170 students practice the song daily in anticipation of performing on one of the daytime talk shows sometime this year. A date has not yet been set.

“Despite the advantages seen through your eyes, I am able and I am liked,” the chorus of students sang while clapping their hands. “Despite the disadvantages they tell us we have, let’s come together and unite.”

The song, which was written and produced locally, is a reminder to celebrate differences, break down barriers and remember everyone is connected in some way, said teaching assistant Ron Kiser.

“It’s very inspiring. Listening to the song you realize it’s not just our population, this is something the world needs to hear,” music producer Nelson Roberts said. “The world could use a little more love and light.”