RANTS that the FCBHA Director Lisa Ferris told only a small part of the story to the Herald Standard in
today's, "Fayette County administrator defends actions."
"I'm in the people business, not the hospital business," Ferris told the HS. Wrong! She for about 13 years has
been in the mighty insurance business as the director of the county's HealthChoices program, managing huge
amounts of county Medicaid behavioral health care funds in the tens of millions of annual dollars. While Ferris
maintained in the article that the agreement she approved 5 months ago and did not tell anyone about till 8 days
ago is "less costly," we here nearly choked on this morning's tea.
This column, through sources at Uniontown Hospital and FCBHA, did first report that Uniontown Hospital is
being paid more than Highlands Hospital is being paid for the same patient treatment. Ferris never confirmed this
fact, but two commissioners confirmed source claims here.
Ferris' "less costly" comment is simply goofy. Uniontown's geriatric treatment unit that opened in 2009 has been
part of Ferris' HealthChoices program through Value Behavioral Health since it opened 3 years ago, or shortly
thereafter, when its first VBH provider number was issued for geriatrics. How was it ever, or for long, an out of
network operation, as she claims it was in the paper today? And how will it end up ever being "less costly" when
rates are definitely higher than those paid to Highlands? We're talking cheaper per patient served, of course.
How much higher is Uniontown paid we don't know since Ferris refused to tell commissioners, citing rates are
"confidential" information. What isn't confidential, though, is the overlooked fact that Highlands has eaten about
$1M per year treating uninsured psych patients who do not qualify for Ferris' county Medicaid behavioral funds.
Ferris, like Al Ambrosini before her, maintains there were always 2 county hospitals and remarked, "I do not
understand why it is an issue now that Uniontown is in the program." Shame on her! She knows better. And this
editor should have known better than to keep sipping the tea before the article was completely read.
Ferris knows that Brownsville's was primarily a geriatric unit, occasionally admitting younger patients only once
in a blue, blue moon, towards its final time in operation. Ferris completely ignores the fact in today's paper that
the contract that she approved 5 months ago and told nobody about until 8 days ago is an extension for
Uniontown Hospital also to serve persons aged 18-55. RANTS that she ignored the fact for today's publication
that this March contract that she approved and told nobody about for 5 months provided Uniontown Hospital
with its second -- not first -- provider number issued through VBH.
As for Ferris' comment in today's paper, "We have more say in patient care and discharge planning," this editor
has concerns because Ferris and the Uniontown Hospital CEO both refused comment here on the fact that one
Uniontown staff was fired after unethically drumming up inpatient business (by taking stacks of blank mental
health committment petitions to caregivers). Both Ferris and the Uniontown CEO did not comment, either, when
this editor asked last month about that hospital's sources' claims that calls sometimes are delayed to a county
delegate (Ferris also moonlights as a delegate and the rest are her FCBHA employees) for approval to start an
involuntary or voluntary petition process for admission, until delegates known to easily approve admissions are
Correctly stated in the article is the comment that "Ferris has been at the center of a flap tied to the hospital
entering into a contract in March." But today's article fails to say that Ferris has nobody to blame but herself for
being at the center of the flap because she:
(a) never informed at least 2 of her 3 bosses, the county commissioners, until one week ago that she provided
approval 5 months ago for Uniontown Hospital to be issued its second VBH insurance provider number,
(b) told one commissioner she was hurt at work and unavailable to meet the week of July 16th with Highlands
staff after the Highlands CEO first wrote to commissioners for help,
(c) ignored two of her boss' demands for 4 weeks to explain how/who approved this second provider number,
(d) sent her bosses word that she would return to work Aug. 2 from a non-work related injury and returned Aug.
(e) did not follow up as promised to contact the Highlands Hospital CEO directly after a conference call with
Ferris, Highlands CEO and a county commissioner had a bad connection,
(f) has not agreed to meet with Highlands staff to date,
(g) failed to inform her own two advisory boards of her actions 5 months ago, causing her board chairman to
call a special July meeting because the boards were in the dark, causing her own boards' bylaws to be
(h) failed 5 months ago to follow state program regulations mandating that she should have announced a new
inpatient service for persons aged 18-55,
(i) ignored the obvious bigger question: who provided the initial letter of support for Uniontown to get its license
in the first place 3 years ago. Ignoring it leads only to public distrust and speculation that big business or an
unsavory politicial influenced the state to do so without Ferris' blessing.
(j) has caused people to wonder who's protecting her after ignoring 2 of her bosses' demands for a copy of a
contract with VBH that is not redacted and ignoring all attempts from 2 commissioners/bosses for explanations
during her 3-week absence from work.
Now it's safe to drink the morning tea without choking.
12 Aug 12
(Editor's Note: This column at any time welcomes Ferris to contribute any written comment or rebuttal that --
minus F words, of course -- will be published exactly as she submits it, in its original form. This editor's only
conditions are that she states who provided that initial letter of support for Uniontown's license 3 years ago and
that she answer our thrice asked question -- i.e., whether a CRCSI doctor or county provider staff are eligible or
would be rejected due to a conflict of interest, to serve on her advisory boards).