Lowell General Hospital Fined for Staff Pay, Meal Break Violations
December 23, 2012 Lowell General Hospital will pay more than $283,000 in restitution and penalties to resolve allegations that a hospital with which it merged failed to comply with the states meal break laws and made alterations to working hours prior to the merger.
The violations reportedly occurred prior to the asset purchase last July of Saints Medical Center by Lowell General Hospital, an independent, nonprofit community hospital serving the Greater Lowell area and surrounding communities.
Our investigation revealed that the hospital made improper deductions for meal breaks that were not taken and failed to pay for all hours worked, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced last week.
The attorney generals office said it received a complaint in June 2011 from an intensive care unit (ICU) nurse at Saints Medical Center, Inc. alleging that deductions were being made for meal breaks not taken and for time worked beyond scheduled shifts.
The AGs office said Lowell General fully cooperated with its and has implemented managerial and procedural changes to address the record-keeping problems in the ICU unit. Under the terms of the settlement agreement, the hospital reportedly will pay restitution to 52 employees and former employees as well as a penalty to the state.
When the boards of the two hospitals last March approved the merger, Lowell General President and CEO Normand Deschene said, "Combining the strengths of Saints and Lowell General will create one of the very best community health care systems. The merger will greatly benefit our patients, by creating a strong unified health care system, able to provide greater breadth and depth of services and more complex and specialized care here in the community."
A the time, Lowell General, with 217 beds, employed about 500 physicians and 2500 related medical and support staff, while Saints Medical Center, with 157 beds, employed 400 physicians and 1,300 employees.