Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, Virginia

Ran into the CFO of Mary Washington at the courthouse in Fredericksburg this morning. Sean T. Barden is his name. Two other executives (I think) were with him. I introduced myself and extended my hand. All I received back was a stare. So I said, “I’d like to shake hands,” and the only response I got was, “no.” Apparently MWH, or at least Mr. Barden, is not prepared to engage in a dialogue yet.

At the court house, all of the cases pending were dropped as was expected. A number of cases scheduled for a few months out were “pulled in” to be dropped in September. We’ll continue to monitor the court’s docket and will show up as needed. But for now, it seems the law suits and wage garnishments will stop. For now…

But it’s not over—of that myself and many members of the legal community in Fredericksburg are quite sure.  There are many people still having their wages garnished based on prior judgments. We’ll be trying to find them, sifting through court records and asking the community to spread the word. We have strong reason to believe that many people were denied their right to due process through improper service, so we’ll be doing what can to vacate old cases and get people refunds.  There’s no statute of limitations on improper service, according to the judge. There might even be a class action law suit in the making. Some local attorneys are getting excited about the possibilities.

It’s important to keep spreading the word in Fredericksburg. It is highly likely that the Hospital will begin outsourcing its collections to collections agencies (one or more). We’re going to make sure those collections agencies have a tough time collecting. As much as we can, we’re going to make the cost of collecting very high, and the amount collected very low. The goal is that no one wants to take on Mary Washington’s debt. We know how to stop collections agencies from collecting. We’ve done it elsewhere with great success. The key is ensuring patients know there’s help out here.

Mr. Barden’s reaction, refusing to so much as shake my hand (his security director was much more polite yesterday) should be a strong indication that that hospital has made no commitment to changing its ways. It’s not lowering its prices; it’s not revisiting its financial assistance policies; and it’s not returning money to the people it’s over-charged.

Yesterday I posted photos listing those who have left MWH in their estate plans. These (below) were  among the other photos I took while at MWH yesterday before being informed that there was a secret policy against taking photos—a policy that was not posted on any sign and that wasn’t written anywhere that could be shown to me. Remember…the “proprietary policy,” just like prices.  These photos show people who have already donated money to the hospital. Many probably will donate again. Perhaps you can help me track them down to let them know there are much better causes they can give their money to.

Patients have no voice in Fredericksburg. The employees we’ve talked to make it sound like they have no voice, either. I have also gotten the sense that the hospital’s board has no voice. Perhaps donors have a voice.

David Silverstein


Donors to Mary Washington Hospital

Dear friends,

Yesterday, I paid a visit to Mary Washington Hospital in Fredericksburg, VA. Had a nice lunch in the cafeteria—cold burger and fries. I think the cafeteria may be part of their strategy to drum up business—certainly not the healthiest food around. But in total fairness, I find hospital cafeteria food to generally be very unhealthy just about everywhere. Bizarre, I know.

I was doing some work in the cafeteria when a security guard approached me. He asked me if I was the one taking photos in the lobby. I said I was. He told me it was a HIPPA violation and that I couldn’t take photos. That, of course, set off some alarm bells for me so I asked to speak to the security officer. My concern was that if I could see what was on the walls (I was taking photos of donor lists), then so could everyone else. I felt compelled to report it. But alas, the guard’s manager told me it wasn’t a HIPPA violation after all. Phew.

Then I had a chat with some attorneys in town and decided to return to the hospital lobby to see what else I could learn. This time the security director, Calvin Bostic, came to talk to me. He said that people “had an expectation of privacy in the lobby,” so that’s why photos were prohibited. That struck me as odd. People take photos in hospital lobbies all the time. I also explained that I was interested in what was on the walls, not people. The things on the walls were clearly put there for all to see. In particular, there was a list of people who have left Mary Washington Hospital money in their estate plans. Mr. Bostic told me I was perfectly fine to come in with a pen and paper to write down the names, but it was against policy for me to take pictures. I told him I had already taken the pictures—that’s why they approached me in the first place, and that I had already emailed them off to others. He was a very nice guy, by the way. So, together we walked outside and looked at the polices posted on the door. They said that firearms were not permitted. Nor was smoking. But nothing about photos. He said they had lots of policies that were not posted. When I asked if I could have a copy, since he wanted me to abide by the policies, he said, “no.” The policies were “proprietary” he told me. I guess they consider their no-photography policy to be similar to their prices. They’re proprietary. LOL.  So beware—when you enter a hospital lobby you are subject to secret rules that you are not allowed to know about unless someone chooses to tell you the rules after-the-fact. Hmm…

As we continued to talk, Mr. Bostic asked if I was recording our conversation. I told him I wasn’t, but I was. I lied. I record all of my conversations. Virginia is a one-party consent state. I didn’t need his permission to record our conversation. The recording is just for my own personal records anyway, though my understanding of Virginia Law is that I could play them for you if I wanted to. But you’ll have to ask…

People tend to not speak the truth when they know they are being recorded, so when legal, I find recordings to be very useful. I’m also not sure there’s much of an expectation of privacy in a busy hospital lobby, but of course he told me patients did expect privacy in the lobby. Hmm….

But back to what I was interested in on the walls. What I’m most curious about is why people would leave Mary Washington Hospital in their wills in the first place. People really could donate their money more wisely.

Above is the photo I took before learning of the mysterious, proprietary policy. I did agree not to take any more photos…for now, but if you know the names of the people in the photo, please reach out to them and ask them to rethink their donations. I’ll post the names of all of the donors on the donor wall, too. These are just the people who haven’t donated yet. And I invited Mr. Bostic to join me at the Capital Ale House in Fredericksburg, VA. He seems like the kind of guy I’d like to have beer with. There will be a number of local attorneys there, too.

David Silverstein


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