Union says Claxton-Hepburn’s CEO is lying, calls for meeting with hospital’s board

Published: Jul. 6, 2022 at 4:58 PM EDT
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OGDENSBURG, New York (WWNY) - A hospital workers’ union says the administrator at Claxton-Hepburn Medical Center is lying and wants a one-on-one meeting with the hospital’s board of directors.

In fact, those board members got a packet of documents from Local 1199 Upstate of the Service Employees International Union and so did 7 News.

“We want them to have the full information regarding what is going on at Claxton-Hepburn,” said Mary Wilsie, 1199 SEIU Upstate area director.

Wilsie is speaking for the 41 union members who were let go from the hospital’s billing center. Claxton-Hepburn CEO Rich Duvall said poor billing practices have undermined the hospital’s financial position. The union says the workers weren’t trained correctly. The hospital says they were.

A rally was held last week, but now the union wants to take its message right to the board of directors.

“We don’t believe that Rich Duvall has been honest with the board of directors as well as with the community and us,” said Wilsie.

The union sent dozens of documents to each board member, and to WWNY-TV. In the packet are testimonials from former employees.

One cited problems with management during a Medicaid claim and said, “Management, again did not show me or know how to do it themselves. There was no leadership in our department.”

Another one stated, “For a hospital this size, money is coming in but Rich (Duvall) putting the blame on the billers is not true.”

The packet also includes job evaluations for a half-dozen workers from this year which show workers were told they consistently were meeting standards.

“That is what the point of evaluations are for, right, and there were no issues that needed to be addressed or corrected,” said Wilsie.

The packet also includes an email from Carrie Bova, the system director of revenue cycle at Claxton, and it lays out how the hospital’s financial position has improved by more than $10 million from 2019 to 2021.

Bova’s email says, “I am not afraid to sing your praises from the rooftops while continuing to keep pushing to do more.” The message also states that 2021′s numbers are the closest the hospital has ever gotten to its $110 million a year revenue goal.

In response, Board of Directors Chair Zvi Szafran said, “The union’s letter contains some very disturbing allegations against the hospital. The management team was very transparent with us and shared additional information and documentation that substantially refutes the claims made by the union.”

Wilsie says the union hopes the two sides can sit down and try to get the jobs reinstated.

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