Bills and (Biohazard) Bags – Americore’s Problems Pile Up
From The Lee Daily Register/contributions by WRIL -
As Americore departed Lee County last week, investigations into the company’s activities continue to ramp up in both Kentucky and Pennsylvania.
WRIL reported over the weekend that a number of residents in Bell County, Kentucky and the surrounding area are receiving bills from Americore-run Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center in Pineville. Residents believe these bills to be fraudulent.
The bills in question came from the medical center’s billing office located in Cleveland, Ohio.
Recipients of the bills say that there are many problems with them. Some recipients reported not having been to the Pineville hospital in a number of years—in many cases before Americore took over the facility.
A majority of the bills, according to WRIL, have no description of services rendered with only a “MISC” code attached. Still others are cases where recipients said these bills had been paid by their insurance or Medicaid. Still others reported that bills came in the names of spouses or parents that had passed some time ago. A number of these bills displayed incorrect arithmetic.
WRIL reported that the bills are being actively investigated by the Kentucky Attorney General’s office.
If you received a bill from Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center, please contact WRIL for help.
In Ellwood City—
The LDR received reports over the weekend that the Pennsylvania Department of Health is investigating possible code violations at Ellwood City Medical Center—another Americore hospital.
During an inspection last week, we are told that state inspectors found large amounts of biohazardous waste stored improperly in a shed on the hospital grounds.
On January 15, we received an unconfirmed report that the biohazard disposal company was refusing to pick up the hospital’s waste because Americore had not paid them. Attempts to confirm that report were unsuccessful primarily because hospital officials would not return our telephone calls.
Grant White has not returned any of our telephone calls or e-mails since early October 2018.
Presumably, this information means that infectious waste had been piling up in a shed at Ellwood City Medical Center for at least two weeks before the state inspectors found it.
There is no word on if that waste has yet been removed, and, if so, where it was removed to.
This is only the latest in a series of service break-downs caused by Americore’s financial inability to operate Ellwood City’s hospital. Last week, Ellwood City’s Meals on Wheels program reported that it would shut down on February 28 because the hospital can no longer provide financial support. Also, a community blood drive had to be cancelled earlier this winter.
The Lawrence County, Pennsylvania District Attorney’s office is investigating potential financial crimes involving Americore CEO Grant White, Ellwood City Medical Center CEO Beverly Annarumo, and Americore CFO Dionna Kasslan. We have been told that Ms Annarumo has retained counsel as a result of these investigations.
In addition, of course, there is Americore’s consistent inability to pay its employees sufficiently and on time. After ten or eleven late payrolls over the past few months, Americore began paying its employees in Ellwood City minimum wage only. Workers recieved minimum wage checks for the past two pay periods at Ellwood City. Payroll in Pineville has been similarly rocky.
In Lee County—
Americore pulled out of Lee County after the Lee County Hospital Authority voted unanimously to separate from Americore in January and pursue a partnership with Ballad Health.
Americore’s last day in Lee County was January 31. The Lee County Hospital Authority recovered ownership of Lee County’s hospital building on February 1. While Americore owned the building, though, the company borrowed $1.3M from Titan Funding using the building as collateral. The company also ordered equipment from a prominent healthcare vendor and never paid for it.
As part of the terms of its partnership with the Hospital Authority, Ballad will have to pay off the Titan Loan and certain vendor accounts. It is our understanding that, with principal and fees, the Titan payoff will be approximately $1.7M, with another $400k or so to the vendors.
This leaves outstanding the $1.5M owed to Lee County taxpayers, which Hospital Authority attorney Jeff Mitchell told LDR will be paid off in time, but the details of exactly how and when are still being discussed.
The Authority meets again on February 7 at 6pm at Pennington Gap Community Center to discuss further the terms of the Ballad Health partnership.
This is a developing story. The Lee Daily Register will bring you the latest as it becomes available. Thank you for reading.