Mary Washington Hospital: Poster child for Bad Behavior by Hospitals

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

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