“We are efficient with our payment models,” Loraine said. “It’s all about understanding the government codes.”
“Artemis, you have to understand, we have developed a unique platform that truly combs through the data to enhance our value-based scoring,” Gene said. His eyes appeared as if he’d self-congratulated himself. “It’s our company edict, we provide quality patient centric care, at the right place, at the right time. But, we have to get paid for our efforts.”
“I understand, but what about these requests for records?” Artemis asked. “On it’s surface, the claim has some serious charges, cremation without consent, so forth?”
“HIPAA, and we are admittedly, overly cautious, protect our neighbors,” Gene said. He interlocked his fingers. “We focus first on being compliant with government standards, we have tested our consent forms in court, and they have stood up. We believe we’re in the right.”
“Artemis,” Loraine said. She glanced over at Gene. “We review and release as much patient record as possible, but there are proprietary tests that we simply cannot share.”
“You’re certain your position will stand up?” Artemis asked Gene. “IF, and it’s a long time away, we take this into court.”
Gene leaned forward onto the conference room table.
“Artemis, not with standing,” Gene said. He paused. “You are under a NDA, so anything I tell you does have in a way, legal privilege.”
“Just as long as we aren’t involved with fraud,” Artemis said. “Where are you headed?”
Lorraine got up and left the conference room after Gene glanced over at her. She tightly closed the door behind her.
“I’ll be blunt,” Gene said. “The community needs this hospital, it needs it to stay open, to care for the community.”
“We agree,” Artemis said. She sat back in the high-back chair.
“Well, in a such,” Gene said. “We have our masters in Nashville, they guide our decision-making these days, you understand?”
“I do,” Artemis said. “I am quite aware.”
“Good, good,” Gene said. He wiped perspiration from along his forehead, just beneath his combover. “All the hospitals have a mission to be a truly closed-loop system, you understand?”
“I do,” Artemis said. “Own profit center.”
“But, being a not-for-profit,” Gene said. He grinned. “Allows us some flexibility, tax and so forth, but yes, each facility has to meet our goals, or, well, I’m searching for a new job. And being as the coal business has died off, I’d be moving from Selene, truthfully.”
“So, are you cryptically saying some of these claims are in fact, accurate?” Artemis asked. “I need to know this.”
“Not really,” Gene said. He waved over at Artemis. “It’s like the standard of care, to a civilian, they might not appreciate how medicine, genetics, works as a practical matter, which you understand.”
“Get with it,” Artemis said.
“For example,” Gene said. He stared over at Artemis. “The one on life support, the little girl you’re helping, which I fully embrace, it’s what Jesus would want you to do.”
“Okay,” Artemis said. She was not shocked that Gene was a aware she had been in the hospital. She knew the place had video cameras monitoring every nook and cranny.
“The patient is close to death, lost the baby,” Gene said. “Sad situation, we unfortunately deal with every day, these poor folks end up on Medicaid, so for us to get compensated, we extend their lives in the hopes they might come out of the induced coma, but long enough to meet the government codes, you understand?”
Artemis covered her mouth with the back of her hand. She thought punching Gene in the face was not a good response.
“I don’t believe this,” Artemis said. “First do no harm-“
“Oh, I agree,” Gene said. “But, we have to work, as I said, in a somewhat flexible standard, to both care and, well, pay for that care. I know it’s a tough view.”
“I’ll say this,” Artemis said. “I’ve had some, ah, interesting cases over the years, but I’ll give you credit, you’re honest about being corrupt.”
Gene squinted his eyes, and smirked over at Artemis.
“You’re an arrogant youngster, you don’t know, what you don’t know,” Gene said. He leaned forward. “But you’ll keep your mouth shut, besides, we can prove our standard, it’s all in the records, our patient records are clear and transparent, we don’t hide our methods.”
“But that woman should be dead and buried,” Artemis said.
“That’s your opinion, not a fact,” Gene said. “And, you’re not a doctor, it’s Dr. Demetrius’ decision, he’d be the one on the witness stand, not you.”
“Fair enough,” Artemis said. She stood up. “I don’t like you, or your little friend, but I have a job to do; I do know one thing, records or not, the dead always reveal the truth.”
“I would agree,” Gene said. “Good luck with the little girl, I think you should do us all a favor, get her out of Selene, it’s not a good town for her.”
Artemis left the hospital and marched over to Jerome Jenkins’ office. She stepped inside, and surprised the young boy at the greeter station. His brown eyes had expanded into larger than normal orbs.
“I need to see, Jerome,” Artemis said. “Now.”
The boy scrambled from his desk chair and disappeared down a side hallway. After a few brief moments, Jerome Jenkins appeared at the hallway opening. His shirt sleeves rolled up to his elbows. His readers dangled from a stretchy eyewear cord.
“Well, well,” Jerome said. He leaned his to the side. He grinned over at Artemis. “Did you get saved? Here to convert me, or what not? You look a bit angry…”
“How much?” Artemis said. “What’s the number.”
Jerome walked farther into the waiting area. He leaned onto the front reception counter.
“Honestly?” Jerome said.
“Yes,” Artemis said. “Off the record?”
“Sure,” Jerome said. “I can keep my mouth shut, but, I think I know what your about to tell me.”
“Then tell me,” Artemis said.
“Those people over at that hospital,” Jerome said. He searched Artemis’ eyes. “Sanctimonious, and corrupt, all at the same time, about right?”
“Perhaps you’re right,” Artemis said. She nodded. She clenched her back molars. “On the record, got a number I can take back?”
End. Chapter 10.
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