Good lord, what have the owners and administrators of Pacific Hospital done now? As you may know, that is my place of work. Two weeks ago, the FBI and other federal authorities descended upon the place and inspected computer files. The local newspaper reported that the hospital was being investigated for fraud. This usually means insurance fraud and that doesn't bode well because in past years, hospitals have been closed for that reason. Is Pacific Hospital financially stable enough to absorb the penalties that may be imposed upon it? I'm surmising that this is the least that the government can do. The worst of course is to order the hospital to cease operations. So the question of many is how is this situation going to affect the people who work there, especially the nursing staff. This uncertainty is giving us a lot of angst. Will we be joining the unemployment rolls in the next few days? It was bad enough that 4 other hospitals unrelated to Pacific Hospital had to close the previous week for fraudulent activities. Those 4 had sizable psychiatric units so if PHLB closes, there would be a glut of psych workers out of a job and a dwindling number of psych units in LA County. No psych units equals no jobs for psych workers. And where would all those psych patients go?
When things like these happen, rumors fly and one of them is that the hospital had applied for bankruptcy a few days later. Was it a Chapter 7 or Chapter 11 bankruptcy? Nobody knew. I later found out this wasn't true but due to a knee jerk reaction, I believed it was initially. But nobody else other than the person who texted me knew about it and it became apparent the next day that the rumor was unsubstantiated. When I heard who the source was, I should have doubted it already, because I knew that this person was unreliable. Where he got it from initially, I don’t know. For me, bad information is worst than no information.
A few days after the raid, the president of the hospital had an open forum where she told the employees that she still doesn’t know what the Feds were looking for. In an article in the Wall Street Journal three years ago, it was mentioned that the owner of Pacific Hospital had gone into some kind of spinal surgery business arrangement with somewhat of a shady character who had previously been incarcerated for fraud in his dealings with another hospital for the same type of business. So I brought this up at the open forum and asked if the FBI may be checking up on the hospital’s spine surgery operations. As the president mentioned beforehand, she did not know. The owner’s and shady character’s names were mentioned, so I followed up and asked if those two names were on the list of people the Feds were looking for. The president told me that she was not at liberty to answer my question but she admired my boldness for asking it, after which she mentioned that she was the daughter of the hospital owner. I was appalled because I would not have asked my follow up question had I known she was related to the owner! After all I have more discretion than that. I was anxious enough on asking my first question that I could feel my blood pressure rise and the additional embarrassment didn’t help any.
So where do we go from here? The president told us to continue taking care of our patients because the hospital is not closing down. It was one of the stipulations in the subpoena that the hospital will continue operating. Of course, questions persist. If worse comes to worst, what will happen to us? What will happen to our accrued vacation time? Will it be paid out or will we lose it forever? I'm concerned about this because I consider this my emergency money. How about health insurance. Do we qualify for COBRA? If we lose our jobs, do we qualify for unemployment benefits? Will there even be severance pay available? I’m also a contributor in the 401K plan but this should not be affected because the funds deducted from our paychecks are forwarded to a separate investment company. And my biggest fear is that I don’t have any other marketable skills anymore. I've been working in psych since 1981 and it's the only job I know. Even though I’d like to retire, it’s too soon and I don’t feel that I’ve saved enough. For now, we can only hope for the best in spite of the uncertainties. One of those hopes would be for my paycheck to clear tomorrow. WILL IT???The views and opinions expressed here are not necessarily those of Pacific Hospital of Long Beach, its agents, or affiliates.
OTHER POSTS ABOUT PHLB: http://aboutlifeandrunning.blogspot.com/2013/09/questions-and-concerns-at-pacific.html
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