PRAGUE, Okla. – In the middle of a big lawsuit, employees at an Oklahoma hospital say they aren’t getting paid, and now their healthcare is in jeopardy.
A hearing in federal court is scheduled for Tuesday.
The hospital is open, but employees did not get paid Friday.
It’s the third time payroll has been missed in the past couple of months, and the money problems don’t end there.
Money is coming out of employees’ paychecks for health insurance, but they say the hospital operator didn’t secure the policies or just let them lapse — leaving some in a healthcare nightmare.
“I just can’t believe somebody would do this to so many people. That’s heartless,” Robin Rains said.
Rains is one of dozens of employees left uninsured by Empower HMS, the out-of-state company that operates the Prague hospital.
“The insurance, my disability that I’ve been paying on, my life insurance I’ve been paying on… it never got paid [by Empower],” Rains said.
It’s a devastating blow for Robin who’s battling Leukemia.
“It tears my heart out,” Rains said.
Without health insurance, she’s left in an impossible spot.
“Could you imagine what the bill would be for treatment? It’s a lot,” Rains said.
She isn’t the only one struggling.
Naomi Ramos was hospitalized last year after complications from surgery.
“I probably have medical bills up over $150,000 right now that haven’t been paid that should have been paid,” Ramos said.
The City of Prague is suing Empower HMS and its CEO Jorge Perez, who we found are being sued by several of their rural hospitals around the country for the same things: not paying employees or their bills.
“To me he’s low life scum to be able to hurt people like this, and it’s like it doesn’t even bother him because he continues to do it,” Rains said.
Supplies and donations are literally rolling in from people in the community, desperate to keep the doors open at the only emergency room for 20 miles.
Employees, going without pay, just keep showing up for work.
“It is a family, and it’s nobody’s fault there what’s going on,” Ramos said.
“The people that work there, we’re going to take care of our patients until the end. I mean, however it ends up going,” Rains said.
Several employees and the city manager are expected to testify in federal court Tuesday.
The City will ask the judge to appoint a third party to take over the books and hire a new operator.
Attorneys for Empower HMS told News 4 they would not comment due to the pending litigation.