Plaintiff's case continues in nursing home retaliatory discharge suit trial

Amelia Flood Nov. 18, 2009, 12:57am


The former head of a Granite City nursing home and some of its employees were called to the stand Tuesday by the plaintiff in a retaliatory discharge suit currently at trial in Madison County.

Jury selection got under way Monday in the case involving a Gateway Medical Center case manager's alleged unwillingness to defraud Medicaid and Medicare. After the jury was sworn, the day ended with testimony. It resumed Tuesday.

Madison County Circuit Judge Barbara Crowder is presiding.

Plaintiff Diane Hughes is suing her former employer, Granite City Illinois Hospital Company, the owner of Gateway Medical Center.

Two cases managers who testified had little to no direct contact with the group of patients at issue in the suit, according to their testimony.

According to her complaint, Hughes was the hospital's director of case management from 2004 to 2006 when she was told to either resign or be fired. In the complaint, Hughes alleges the termination relates to a July 2006 incident involving more than 50 nursing home residents.

The residents came to Gateway Medical Center when the power went out at their Granite City nursing home.

According to Hughes, two of her immediate supervisors directed her and her staff to fully admit all of the nursing home residents, even though patients are normally only admitted if there is a medical need. The reasons the supervisors allegedly gave for the full admissions was so that the hospital could bill the nursing home, Medicaid and Medicare.

Hughes told her managers that the residents did not need to be admitted, she claims. To do so, she claims, would have violated federal laws concerning Medicaid and Medicare.

After being told again to admit all 51, she did not direct her staff to do so. According to the complaint, only three of the nursing home's residents were admitted.

In September 2006, Hughes was told by her supervisor to either resign or be fired. She resigned.

Hughes alleges that her employers violated the Illinois Whistleblowers' Act.

She seeks damages for back pay, reinstatement or front pay, emotional distress, lost benefits and humiliation.

Both case managers testified that Hughes was a good supervisor.
Under cross examination by the defense, both testified that they had never been asked to do anything illegal by the defendant nor had Hughes told them that she had been.

The nursing supervisor testified about the power outage incident.

Hughes is represented by Susan Andorfer and Dana Deck.

The defendant is represented by Richard Behr and others.

The case is Madison case number 07-L-185.

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