Thursday, January 13, 2011 – 04:00 p.m.
Circumstances leading up to a raid at San Bernardino County-owned and operated Arrowhead Regional Medical Center (ARMC) continue to trickle out this week.
The raid, spearheaded by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) late last year, apparently was the result of several employees coming foward with eyewitness accounts and documentary evidence highlighting alleged fraud and theft of public services by various current and former county officials and others.
Employees at the state-of-the-art county facility tell stories of individuals receiving free medical treatment arranged by the county’s former chief executive through the medical director.
The practice raised liability questions among hospital staff members and physicians who suffered the misfortune of having to deliver the care in question.
In many instances those involved received treatment without being registered and charted.
Employees even kept copies of files, which included folders containing invoices that were labeled “Do Not Bill”.
In more egregious cases of wrongdoing, some officials were treated under phony names or aliases.
The big question circling the drain here? If everything going on was considered legal and appropriate, then why the deception?
Sources also say disputes erupted between physicians and administrators over the treatement of certain county supervisors. In at least one instance a physician refused to provided treatment.
Whether threats or intimidation was used to deliver services is currently under examination.
The red carpet or VIP treatment being afforded at ARMC eventually instilled anger and resentment among facility employees. The sense of entitlement and arrogance on display pissed-off many of those people who stood in witness.
The whole story of a few waived copayments no longer rings true with the revelations regarding the use of fake names, since such a practice would negate any chance for insurance billing.
The financial loss to the publicly-funded hospital is now minimally estimated in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Not to mention the fee income lost to the attending physicians.
ARMC is predominently subsidized by state and federal funding. A key point in this whole chirade, because the resources used to provide care was likely paid for by public dollars.
The revelations have garnered a string of denials from current and former officials who claim to have no knowledge of the practice.