Rob Marsh, the CEO for Cedar Crest Hospital since April 2014, previously was involved in a wrongful retaliation lawsuit along with Red River Hospital in Wichita Falls, according to reports by the Wichita Falls Times Record News.

The report cited court documents from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Wichita Falls Division.

Acadia Healthcare Company Inc., based in Franklin, Tenn., which owns both hospitals, is now named in another wrongful retaliation lawsuit filed July 14 in Judge Gordon Adams’ 169th District Court by Delisa Duncan Russell, Cedar Crest Hospital’s former director of business development. Cedar Crest is a private mental health care and substance abuse treatment facility in Belton.

In both cases, Medicare fraud was claimed by terminated employees.

Downs’ case

A federal jury in December determined Red River Hospital terminated Yvonne Downs for reporting a violation of law in good faith, the Times Record News reported.

Downs’ complaint, filed Oct. 14, 2013, said she was fired on Sept. 13, 2013, from her position as director of business development because she tried to report a suspected Medicare fraud and a patient safety violation to Marsh and Acadia Healthcare Company Inc., according to the Times Record News.

Her complaint said Marsh told her to create a draft for a senior strategic plan aimed at the Medicare population to get more Medicare patients admitted to the hospital, but Downs said she told him the hospital didn’t have the available resources or facilities to do that.

Downs claimed she tried to tell Marsh that the hospital failed to meet guidelines for Medicare benefits and also about an elderly Medicare patient who was allegedly being neglected and sedated for several hours.

After no response from Marsh, Downs said she tried to reach Marsh’s boss to schedule a meeting, which was brought up to her by Marsh at a September meeting, the Times Record News reported.

During a second September meeting, Downs, a hospital employee for 16 years, reportedly was told she didn’t fit in at the hospital, the newspaper reported.

The hospital denied Downs’ claims, saying the firing was for legitimate reasons. The jury agreed that Downs engaged in misconduct that merited her firing and ruled there wasn’t sufficient evidence of harm to Downs from the hospital, the documents said.

The jury awarded $72,000 in lost wages to Downs for her firing but nothing for any mental anguish she claimed to suffer.

However, a final judgment dated July 1, 2015, said Downs was not awarded the $72,000 because it was proven she engaged in misconduct and Red River Hospital would have fired her anyway based on that, according to the Times Record News.

A call to Acadia Healthcare attorneys wasn’t returned by press time Thursday.

Marsh, however, responded to an email Thursday.

“Though I cannot comment on any pending litigation, Cedar Crest treats all of its employees with dignity and respect and believes it is in compliance with all applicable employment laws,” Marsh said.

Bell County lawsuit

Russell’s lawsuit said that in February she told Acadia Healthcare that Cedar Crest Hospital was billing Medicare, Tricare and other insurance companies for services that weren’t provided to patients. Russell claimed that on March 15, staff at Cedar Crest altered patient records before a state audit was performed. Reportedly removed from the records were the services that were allegedly never provided.

She said in the lawsuit that administrators began to retaliate against her, citing a March 20 decision that she couldn’t attend management-level meetings and a March 25 decision to move her to a military marketer position instead of her previous position as director of business development.

Russell reportedly was in an accident April 23 when driving to meet a requirement that she travel two days a week to military bases outside of Central Texas. Her injuries in the accident prevented her from driving, but she said she found out that her supervisor was going to put her back on the road as soon as she recovered.

She resigned her position May 13, listing her reasons as retaliatory behavior by her supervisor and Cedar Crest.

As part of her lawsuit, Russell is asking for between $200,000 and $1 million in damages for lost wages and benefits, court costs, attorney’s fees and mental anguish.

Russell could not be reached Thursday for comment.

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