OSWEGO — Last month, Labette Health opened its new Oswego Clinic & Express Care facility, providing some relief to patients who had been in health care limbo since the February closure of Oswego Community Hospital.
Not all of the disruptions to people’s lives and medical care issues in Oswego have been resolved by the clinic’s opening, however.
Dusty Jones, clinic coordinator for the new Labette facility in Oswego, says she is “one of the luckiest” former employees of Oswego Community Hospital, where she had been working as both a billing specialist and admissions clerk until the hospital, once operated by troubled Kansas City firm EmpowerHMS, closed its doors.
Jones and other employees had continued working at Oswego Community Hospital for its last five weeks of operation without pay until — without warning — the hospital’s out-of-town management called the Labette County Sheriff’s Department and had the remaining staff escorted from the premises for allegedly trespassing.
Jones, who had worked for Labette Health prior to taking a job a few years ago at Oswego Community Hospital, was out of work for only a week before starting her new job with her previous employer. Not everyone was so fortunate, though.
Jones said the way things ended at Oswego Community Hospital was “a sad deal for everybody,” both employees and patients.
“It’s sad. It really is. We’ve run into a lot of those patients coming in here and they’re like ‘Well can you get our medical records?’ Well, we’ve sent off for them. (The former management company for Oswego Community Hospital) have 30 days to comply, and they haven’t.”
A sign on the door of the shuttered Oswego hospital now instructs patients seeking their medical records to submit a form to Jorge Perez, CEO of EmpowerHMS, in Miami, Florida.
Since closing its Oswego facility, EmpowerHMS has all but disappeared, but the company has responded to patients seeking medical records with letters saying “that because of legal bankruptcies or whatever, this and that, your records are going to be delayed,” according to Jones.
Just over a week after the Oswego hospital’s closure, the Kansas Attorney General’s Office executed a search warrant and took documents from the facility, the AG’s office confirmed in response to an inquiry from the Morning Sun in March.
Jones was not present for the execution of the search warrant, but said it is her understanding that it was only “a handful” of documents that were removed from the hospital. “It wasn’t all of them, and I think it was mostly Medicaid records,” she said.
The AG’s office has declined to give any further detail, however, as to whether its Medicaid Fraud and Abuse Division is involved in its investigation of the hospital.