Bond Patient Care Concerns Surface In New Report

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By Andy Alcock
July 12, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - Issues at Bond Community Health Center have affected patient care.

A report obtained exclusively by WCTV Eyewitness News comes to that conclusion.

Staffing at Bond Community Health Center has been a problem.

A federal government report based on a March site visit found several issues.

Investigators found high staff turnover, low morale and a failure to meet medical staffing requirements.

"With that medical doctor shortage, it's forced us to really kind of spread our resources relatively thin," said Bond Board Chair Antonio Jefferson.

In particular, the report found that staffing problem has affected children.

With the lack of a pediatrician, the report found inconsistent care from nurse practitioners for children with inadequate oversight from a doctor.

Jefferson says there are ongoing negotiations with a temporary pediatrician to make him permanent.

"We have had a temporary issue with our pediatrician," said Jefferson. "That's a segment of our business that could use additional work," he said.

Recently, Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor, a long time Bond supporter. led a move to temporarilty suspend Bond's funding after writing a memo expressing his grave concerns about Bond.

The stakes are high.

Jefferson says a permanent loss of that county money and matching federal and state grants would cut 28 percent of Bond's revenue.

Bond serves 16,000 patients in several counties.

Ten-thousand of them in Leon County.

Eight thousand of those patients have no insurance.

Jefferson says Proctor has yet to speak to him about his concerns.

"If he would've chosen to give me a call, I'd been more than glad to meet with him," he said.

Jefferson says he's confident Bond will be able to resolve any issues with Proctor and the Leon County Commissioners.

After a nationwide search, he also says Bond is in final negotiations with a candidate to be the center's new CEO.

He says that person should start work in the next several weeks.

By Andy Alcock

Tallahassee, FL - For the first time since WCTV Eyewitness News first reported concerns regarding Bond Community Health Center on Tuesday, the board of directors is now speaking out.

In a statement released late Thursday afternoon, the board says it has no intention of rehiring former CEO J.R. Richards.

Medical providers at Bond including doctors and nurses signed a petition along with other workers and patients making that demand.

The providers and others in that petition also say they have no confidence in current interim CEO Debra Weeks.

But in the statement, the board commended Weeks for what was termed her selfless service while the board searches for a new CEO.

Tallahassee, FL - There were no irregularities.

Former Bond Community Health Center accountant Joni Wallace disputes claims made by the center.

Wallace worked at Bond for seven years.

She says she quit in January due to a hostile work environment.

Wallace says during her tenure, there were no financial irregularities at Bond and the audits were clean.

She takes great issue with the center's claims of financial irregularities in a previous administration.

"I think that's a smokescreen to take the attention away from the true issues that are being presented before them," says Wallace. "The true issues are about working conditions and the environment in which the staff are working under," she said.

Wallace says those conditions include abusive language and treatment.

Bond has reached out to federal and state authorities to take a look at possible financial issues.

A Leon County spokesman says the county currently is paying Bond more than $800,000 in contracts.

By: Andy Alcock
April 2, 2013

Tallahassee, FL - The future of a major area health care provider is being called into serious question.

Your tax dollars help fund Bond Community Health Center to provide care for low income patients.

Doctors, nurses and other Bond employees claim if changes aren't made soon, the center could close.

"No confidence".

Health care providers in a letter to Bond Community Health Center's board of directors say they unanimously have "no confidence" in the current administration's ability to run Bond.

The letter says the federal government has placed Bond on probationary status due to a recent site visit.

And it states an insurance company providing a major source of Bond funding has terminated its contract.

"Everything has gone downhill and it's been apparent," said former employee LaShae Dent. "Patients have seen it, employees have seen it I'm a former employee and it's still going on," she said.

Dent used to work at Bond as a communications coordinator.

But she claims when she tried to tell the board about multiple hostile work environment issues, she ran into a brick wall, suffered retaliation and was forced to resign.

"Since I've resigned, I've been in contact with the media," she said. "I've tried to reach out and do something in regards to this," said Dent.

Bond employees claim there are other problems.

They claim a wellness center on south Monroe Street still under construction was supposed to open within 30 days of receiving a
$1-million grant last September.

The employees claim other problems include the late and incorrect submission of federal grant renewal requests, the loss of a major Medicaid contract resulting in patient and money loss and the loss of five patient care providers with two more providers scheduled to leave this month.

The providers say concern for their patients is their top priority.

And they say they have "no confidence they will be able to provide the medical care necessary for the community of patients we have attracted".

Additionally they say, "this continuing lack of clinicians will cause the demise of the Bond CHC system."

"It could happen," says Dent. "It's my hopes that it doesn't," she said.

It's not just the health care providers who have concerns. They, along with other employees and patients have signed petitions presented to the board.

The petitions request the board re-hire former Bond chief executive officer J. R. Richards.

Richards says he'd be open to returning.

In the letter to the board with the petitions dated last Thursday March 28th, the health care providers are demanding a meeting with the board within five business days or they will take further action.

"People are so afraid of being retaliated against that we had to come together and unite to something about this," said Dent.

For the past few weeks, we've made multiple attempts to speak with Bond's director, board chair and lawyer without success.

However, late Tuesday afternoon, the owner of a public relations firm Bond hired told us center leaders are concerned about financial irregularities from a previous administration, but service to the community won't be interrupted.

"They've begun an active outreach to federal, state and local authorities to ask for assistance, an active investigation if appropriate about financial irregularities they're concerned about," said Ron Sachs, Bond spokesman.

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