Poudre Valley Health System, Fort Collins, Colo., paid $2.9 million last week to resolve civil whistleblower fraud allegations without admitting legal wrongdoing, then blamed the whistleblower, a former employee, for failing to report the alleged fraud. Lee Burkholder, former director of the system's home health subsidiary, filed the False Claims Act lawsuit in 2000 in U.S. District Court, Denver, accusing the then-public hospital of failing to report contracts for nursing services with a hospital affiliate and falsely certifying on Medicare cost reports that no such deals existed. Burkholder will receive $565,500 for his role and his attorneys $39,000. In a written statement, Poudre Valley President and CEO Rulon Stacey alleged that Burkholder had opportunities to report the irregularities but didn't. "We believe that he chose instead to withhold critical information, carry off PVHS documents without our permission and make a personal profit by becoming a whistleblower," Stacey said. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office said the criticism is unfounded. "The hospital had a consultant's report issued to them well prior to Mr. Burkholder's ever being hired," spokesman Jeffrey Dorschner said. "And that report outlined the nature of the problem Mr. Burkholder later spelled out. They chose to ignore that." -- by Mark Taylor
Colo. hospital blames whistleblower in fraud case
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