St. Vincent Hospital Nurses Outraged by Government’s Announcement Of $1.7 Million Fine Against Tenet/St. Vincent Hospital for Overcharging for Cardiac Surgical Procedures
The fine is just the latest in a series of fines and judgements from the courts and government agencies against Tenet Healthcare, totaling close to $2 billion over the last 20 years.
WORCESTER, MA – The nurses of St. Vincent Hospital in Worcester are outraged by an announcement on Friday by the U.S. Government of a $1.7 million fine against the hospital for overcharging Medicare for cardiac surgical procedures. The fine is just the latest in a series of fines and judgements from the courts and government agencies against Tenet Healthcare, the for-profit owner of the facility, totaling close to $2 billion over the last 20 years. Click here to view the press release about the fine from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
“Once again, our CEO and Tenet Healthcare has demonstrated its disgraceful desire for profits over any concern for the quality and safety of patient care,” said Marlena Pellegrino, RN, a 36-year medical surgical nurse and co-chair of the MNA local bargaining unit at St. Vincent Hospital. “This decision underscores the true nature of this corporation, and shows why we nurses felt compelled to take a stand against them last year, and why we continue to fight to hold them accountable for providing the care and dignity our patients deserve.”
The fine by the Government also follows more than a dozen pending charges by nurses encompassing more than 20 counts of unfair labor practices by Tenet with the National Labor Relations Board for Tenet’s violation of their union rights, as well as the filing of dozens of grievances by the nurses for the hospital’s refusal to honor commitments to safely staff the facility to ensure patients receive appropriate care. Last year, Tenet spent tens of millions of healthcare dollars to force and prolong a strike by the nurses, the longest nurses strike in state history, a strike waged to establish the staffing standards the corporation now violates on a daily basis. In November, the nurses held a press conference outside the facility detailing a litany of serious deficiencies in care at the facility as a result of Tenet’s callous management practices. Reporters can view the full press release here.
In the wake of Tenet’s attempts to overcharge for cardiac services, Tenet Healthcare has been cutting back on the basics of patient care safety while raking in hundreds of millions of dollars in profits. Earlier this year, Tenet reported a doubling of its profits to $915 million. Meanwhile, the company paid its CEO Saum Sutaria $21 million in FY 2021. According to Becker’s Hospital Review, Tenet Executive Vice President and CFO Dan Cancelmi also took home $7.22 million.
Tenet’s Record of Alleged Corporate Malfeasance is Long and Well Documented
Tenet’s propensity for questionable and unlawful behavior is well documented, as the corporation has been subject to fines and other judgements from courts and governmental agencies totaling more than $1.8 billion over the last 20 years alone. A listing of those decisions can be found here. This includes the award in February 2021 of $10.6 million to two cardiologists at Tenet-owned Detroit Medical Center after a federal judge upheld an arbitrators’ decision that the hospital and Tenet acted with malice in firing them as retaliation for reporting violations at the facility. Four nurses at a Tenet facility in June of 2020 have also filed $25 million lawsuit against Tenet for alleged wrongful discharge, retaliation against whistleblowers, and intentional and/or reckless infliction of emotional distress, after the nurses reported preventable patient deaths in their emergency department due to understaffing during the height of the COVID crisis. And in February of 2020, Tenet and one of its California hospitals agreed to pay $1.41 million to settle false claims allegations brought by the federal government for knowingly charging Medicare for implanting unnecessary cardiac monitors into patients.
In fact, Tenet changed its name from National Medical Enterprises to Tenet Healthcare in 1995 after it pled guilty in 1994 to government charges of Medicare fraud and conspiracy and paid a fine of $362.7 million to settle a sweeping federal investigation, which at that time was the largest fine in a U.S. fraud case involving the health care or defense industries.
“None of these issues are acceptable on any level and any administrator responsible for these conditions must be held accountable,” said Dominique Muldoon, RN, a medical surgical nurse and co-chair of the nurses local bargaining unit. “Our nurses have always taken such pride at being a St. Vincent nurse and we are appalled to see what this administration is doing to our community hospital and the patients we serve every day.”
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Founded in 1903, the Massachusetts Nurses Association is the largest union of registered nurses in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. Its 25,000 members advance the nursing profession by fostering high standards of nursing practice, promoting the economic and general welfare of nurses in the workplace, projecting a positive and realistic view of nursing, and by lobbying the Legislature and regulatory agencies on health care issues affecting nurses and the public.