Former CKHA fundraiser told to clam up

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Elisha Banks

Music for the Mind’s Banks receives cease-and-desist letter from CKHA Foundation lawyers

Not only has the music stopped playing for the Chatham-Kent Health Alliance Foundation, but the organization is seeking to press the mute button altogether on the organizer of the Music for the Mind fundraisers.

The relationship between the foundation and Elisha Banks – who worked to raise more than $92,000 for the foundation in a two-year period spearheading Music for the Mind – has deteriorated to the point a big Bay Street law firm is involved.

The Foundation hired Douglas Smith of Toronto law firm Borden Ladner Gervais to send Banks a letter March 18 advising her not to communicate with members of the Foundation board, CKHA personnel – including president and CEO Lori Marshall – or speak to the news media in regard to Foundation staff.

The letter alleges an e-mail from Banks to Marshall and members of the Foundation, dated March 11, “contained statements that are untrue and defamatory of CKHA Foundation staff, and we demand that you immediately cease and desist from making any such further statements in the future via e-mail, in the news media or on social media.”

The law firm said it is attempting to lock Banks out of any further direct e-mail communication with Foundation board members and CKHA personnel as well.

“We have recommended that your e-mail be blocked on the CKHA and CKHA Foundation e-mail server in order to prevent further defamatory statements being made by you to CKHA and CKHA Foundation,” it states. “Any further defamation of CKHA Foundation staff by you will be dealt with by way of proceedings in court in which CKHA Foundation and staff will seek damages and an order enjoining you from making any further defamatory statements. We trust that this will not be necessary.”

Banks declined to comment at this time, but will be seeking legal counsel of her own.

Mary Lou Crowley, president and CEO of the Foundation, said the Foundation believed it needed to seek out legal advice after Banks sent an e-mail to Foundation Board members, Marshall and at least one additional CKHA staffer.

“The Foundation was concerned with certain statements made by Elisha Banks about Foundation staff, and, accordingly, we sought out and received legal advice,” Crowley said in an e-mail to The Voice. “The matter is now with our lawyers and in accordance with legal advice, we will not comment further on the issue.”

Marshall said it is routine for hospitals or foundations across the province to utilize large firms for legal counsel.

The Foundation’s lawyer, Smith, did not reply to requests for comment by press time.

Bob Hockney, chairman of the board of the Foundation, did not reply to a request for comment by press time.

Banks, the founder of Music for the Mind, spent two years raising funds, totalling about $92,000, with the idea of it being spent on needed items in the adult in-patient mental health ward at CKHA.

Banks told The Chatham Voice in a February interview she shuttered the fundraiser after realizing the funds Music for the Mind had raised were gathering dust in a Foundation of CKHA bank account.

She said there was miscommunication with hospital officials and what she called a “breach of trust” with the Foundation.

In February, Marshall acknowledged there was miscommunication, and said the purchase of items for patients in the mental health ward falls under the operating budget of the CKHA, which has since allocated $10,000 per year to the task of purchasing everything from clothing to personal toiletries to art books.

Crowley, in February, said privacy legislation prevents her from discussing the details of individual donor agreements, but said “there was never a miscommunication on the Foundation side with the signed agreement.”

Banks became interested in supporting the patients in the ward after she spent 50 days there as a patient herself in 2019.

“It gave me a lot of time to really get a good idea for the needs on the unit. I got a good sense of the ongoing outflow of supplies being given to patients by the staff on the unit,” she said.

Banks said once she learned of shortages of personal hygiene products, art supplies, and clothing, she pledged to send support to the ward.

Comments

comments

6 COMMENTS

  1. This is absolutely shameful. The organizers, donors and the community that supported this cause thinking the funds would go to the needs of those on the mental health unit deserve answers. This is a beautiful, kind, caring women who has spent over two yrs of her life, time and money thinking she was raising money to help those on the mental health unit. It should have been the hospital’s diligence from the start to have made the organizer aware that the funds couldn’t be used for the mental health unit. Instead they took the money that was intended for the mental health unit and put it towards something else. The donation from the organization was taken under false pretences. The hospital should have notified the organization so the organization could have decided if they wanted to continue with the donations under the false pretences. Although the donations were used for something to benefit other areas of the hospital they should have made the organization aware that it wouldn’t be used for the mental health unit before taking the money. At this point I think the money should be refunded back to the organization if it wishes so it can be allocated to a charity of the organizations discretion.

  2. There is always a little truth in a complaint that is often ignored. Look back and see if there is a pattern that mirrors this complaint.
    Don’t jump to conclusions, just follow and talk to people.

  3. I am not surprised that the COWARDS at the foundation are going to hide behind a lawyer.
    Mary Lou Crowley should be ashamed of herself for not admitting her part in this whole mess.
    I support Elisha Banks for standing up for herself. She has done an amazing thing to raise money to support the people in the Mental Health ward.
    This always happens to good people just trying to make a difference. But when they see mistakes happening and start to ask questions well at first the organization try to appease you but when you keep pressing for the truth then they call in the lawyers.
    I stand with Elisha Banks and hope she fights on. People (Mary Lou Crowley) need to be held accountable.

  4. When in doubt, just follow the money trail, it doesn’t lie. Wonder if they are going to pay for their law firm with that loot?

  5. Where did the days go when people could sit down and come to mutually satisfying agreements to solve challenges like this? The only ones winning in this case are the lawyers. Maybe people and organizations can consider becoming responsible for their reactivity, consider other ways to solve problems, and save lots of time and money for all involved, so that the money can go to the originally intended purpose.

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