Patient: Hospice company failed me too - New York News

Patient: Hospice company failed me too

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The state is now looking into a defunct hospice provider originally investigated by the FOX 5 I-Team.

The company is called Kathy Cares. It collected Medicare and Medicaid money with the promise of helping terminally ill Georgians.

Bob McLanahan is not one of their fans.

FOX 5 I-Team: How are you feeling today?

Bob: I feel like crap. I feel like crap every morning. I've been up since 4 o'clock in the morning. I wake up hurting like hell every day.

If these really are Bob McLanahan's final days, he'd just as soon not live them.

Bob: I tell you what, I want to go walk out there in front of a tractor trailer. I really do. That's how I feel every day.

FOX 5 I-Team: You mean, kill yourself?

Bob: Yeah."

The 54-year-old former Barnesville contractor suffers from a variety of serious illnesses, largely brought on he says from his work around black mold.

When his doctor labeled his condition terminal, Bob qualified for Medicaid-funded hospice care. He signed up with Making A Dream Come True, a company that would later change its name to Kathy Cares.

According to his complaint to Medicaid Kathy Cares could not care less.

"I was looking for help and all you did was screw me," said Bob.

The idea of hospice is not to dwell on death, but to make those last days and months easier to live. To give them value, dignity. And to give the patient someone to hold their hand.

Medicaid hospice rules require a registered nurse come by every two weeks. But Bob told investigators that didn't happen.

FOX 5 I-Team: So you had one nurse come by one time.

Bob: And she was going to take my blood pressure but her blood pressure cuff was broke. So she wasn't even able to do that.

According to his complaint, Bob did get some medicine each month that he says he had to go pick up, but that was it. Still, Kathy Cares claimed it cared for Bob for six months. Total amount you paid - $29,676.24.

"I'm wondering how? I mean, that's what I don't get. How? How did they charge me for anything?" Bob asked.

Sylvia Myers has the same question.

"I feel like they used me like I was a fool. Like I was just, you know, dumb." said Sylvia.

She told Medicare no one from Kathy Cares ever helped her dying husband Grady. Yet, the company collected $23,749.36, claiming multiple visits.

"And they got me to give information so they could make money. They don't care about the people that they claim they're going to take care," she said.

Both Sylvia and Bob say their only contact at Kathy Cares was administrator Stoney Sullivan.

But Sullivan did not care to answer questions, barely slowing down when Fox 5 I-Team reporter Randy Travis flagged down his car.

He later said by phone that someone came by other times to see Grady or Bob, but they weren't home. He could not explain why his company still got paid.

"When I see a story such as Kathy Cares, I'm disappointed because they are the exception," said Charlene Bunts. She's the executive director of the Georgia Hospice & Palliative Care Organization.

She's spent a career helping people leave this world with dignity and compassion. An estimated 46,000 Georgians went through hospice in 2012. Charlene lost count long ago of how many hands she's personally held over the years.

"The hospices that I work with, the people that we're dedicated to supporting do everything in their ability to be able to focus on what that patient needs, what that family needs."

One hundred sixty hospice groups are members of her organization. Kathy Cares was not. According to Medicaid records, the state paid Kathy Cares $489,493 to care for 18 Georgians.

Were they Georgians who got help? Or Georgians like Bob McLanahan, who say it's all been a waste of money and precious time.

Bob: You just don't sign somebody up, and then tell them you're going to do something, and then don't do it, and take money from the state, or the federal government or whatever and then don't help the people.

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