Choking on the Sunday paper
RANTS that FCBHA Director Lisa Ferris told only a small part of the story to the Herald Standard in
today's commentary piece, "Fayette County administrator defends actions."
"I'm in the people business, not the hospital business," Ferris told the HS.
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 five months ago and did not tell
anyone about till eight 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, after staff at both
hospitals and from Ferris' own county office, both reported the differences.
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 Uniontown is paid is unknown, 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 two 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. It was never considered to be a "go
to" hospital for county mental health delegates doing routine bed searches for inpatient psychiatric
Ferris completely ignores the fact in her commentary published in today's paper that the contract that
she approved five months ago and told nobody about until eight 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 five 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 commitment 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 and the rest are her FCBHA employees also moonlight as delegates) for
approval to start an involuntary or voluntary petition process for admission, until specific staff,
known to more easily approve admissions than others, are working.
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:
- never informed at least two of her three bosses, the county commissioners, until one week ago
that she provided approval five months ago for Uniontown Hospital to be issued its second VBH
insurance provider number,
- 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,
- ignored two of her boss' demands for four weeks to explain how/who approved this second
- sent her bosses word that she would return to work Aug. 2 from a non-work related injury and
returned Aug. 1,
- 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,
- has not agreed to meet with Highlands staff to date,
- failed to inform her own two advisory boards of her actions five 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 compromised,
- failed five months ago to follow state program regulations mandating that she should have
announced a new inpatient service for persons aged 18-55,
- ignored the obvious bigger question: who provided the initial letter of support for Uniontown to get
its license in the first place three years ago. Ignoring it leads only to public distrust and speculation
that big business or an unsavory political influenced the state to do so without Ferris' blessing.
- has caused people to wonder who's protecting her after ignoring two of her bosses' demands for a
copy of a contract with VBH that is not redacted and ignoring all attempts from two
commissioners/bosses for explanations during her three-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 will
be published exactly as she submits it, in its original form.
This editor's only non-negotiable conditions are that she states who provided that initial letter of support for
Uniontown's license three 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