Nurse accuses Indy psych hospital of keeping patients longer than needed

A nurse who worked at an Indianapolis psychiatric hospital says she was ordered by supervisors to hold patients longer than they needed treatment so the hospital could collect extra money from Medicare.

Jaci Glass, a nurse practitioner who was responsible for patients’ discharge plans, filed a whistleblower lawsuit against Neuropsychiatric Hospital of Indianapolis LLC and its owner and CEO, Cameron Gilbert; and Vanguard Eldercare LLC, which staffed the hospital, and its CEO, Dr. Steven Posar.

The lawsuit was filed under seal in March 2016 in U.S. District Court in Indianapolis and was unsealed last month.

According to the complaint, Glass said she was repeatedly instructed to hold patients for 14 days or longer, regardless of when they were actually ready for discharge. “Fourteen days is the money maker,” Gilbert told the staff shortly after the hospital opened in September 2015, the complaint said.

The treatment team would routinely schedule patients’ discharge dates for 14 days after their admissions, regardless of their status, Glass’s complaint said.

The hospital, in a statement issued by its lawyer, Jason Delk, denied the allegations. He said the hospital “provides critical psychiatric care to the most underserved population in the Indianapolis metropolitan area.”

“Any suggestion that Neuropsychiatric Hospital holds patients beyond the needed amount of time to treat very serious mental illness of underserved patients is completely false and slanderous,” Delk’s written statement continued. “Neuropsychiatric Hospital of Indianapolis looks forward to the opportunity to demonstrate the frivolous and baseless nature of Ms. Glass’s claims.”

The hospital is located at 6720 Parkdale Place, on the northwest side of Indianapolis. It is part of Neuropsychiatric Hospitals LLC, based in South Bend.

Glass’s complaint said “several personnel” were threatened by hospital managers, and “two or three employees” were fired for not complying with the 14-day rule.

On one occasion, a hospital physician told Glass she should just “grasp at straws” to find reasons to keep patients, according to the complaint. She was also told to change documentation, including orders for patients that were no longer in the hospital.

“If a patient has been in (the hospital) for less than 14 days, Gilbert or Posar will deny the request to discharge the patient,” the complaint said. “Gilbert and Posar have given approval to discharge a patient prior to the full 14-day period only when the patient’s family complained, or the patient’s insurance would not cover the additional days.”

Gilbert, in an email to IBJ, disputed those allegations. “I will state strongly that this is completely bogus, and this person never even worked for me. Ever!”

Glass’s complaint states she worked at the hospital from July 2015 through January 2016 as an employee of Vanguard Eldercare, a contracted staff agency specializing in elder care.

Vanguard Eldercare did not respond to questions from IBJ.

Glass said she was suspended by a vice president of Neuropsychiatric Hospital for an undisclosed length of time for discharging a patient on the orders of the treating psychiatrist eight days after admission. The patient had been admitted for depression and suicidal ideation, but was showing improvement and was ready to be discharged, Glass said in her complaint.

She later met with the Office of Inspector General in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and with the Indiana Attorney General’s office. The Department of Justice said in a court filing last month it declined to intervene in the case. Glass’s lawyer, Bruce Howard, did not return a call to IBJ to discuss whether he planned to move forward with the case on his own.

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