Former hospital employees relieved about disgraced owner's convi - KXXV-TV News Channel 25 - Central Texas News and Weather for Waco, Temple, Killeen |


Former hospital employees relieved about disgraced owner's conviction

WHITNEY - Relief and anger for many former employees of the Lake Whitney Medical Center who say the owner, recently convicted of medicare and medicaid fraud, is to blame for the hospital's closure. Those few people and the community of Whitney were greatly affected by Dr. Tariq Mahmood, and are glad he will be punished for his crimes.

"Justice was served. You know he gotta pay the price," Former Lake Whitney nurse, Francis Salinas said.

As happy as employees like Francis Salinas are, they still will never forget the trouble that the disgraced doctor caused for more than year as the hospital stayed in flux..

"A lot of us ended up having to quit or a lot of people got their car repossessed, lost their homes because of not being paid," Salinas said.

Employees say the problems began in August of 2013 when they began to notice their weren't getting paid on time. As more paychecks were delayed, the longer the employees worked without getting compensated. The issue continued on until March 2014, when the hospital finally closed.

"We were behind pay all along as it ended up when we finally got paid it was six weeks lacking of pay," Former Lake Whitney Physician Assistant Jim Drees said.

Members of the Whitney Hospital Board Authority say because of Mahmood's affiliation with the Lake Whitney Medical Center, Medicare and Medicaid could not flow into hospital. That money was much needed in order to pay for supplies and payroll. It not only caused issues with employees, but for potential buyers and people looking to save the hospital from Mahmood's control.

"There were a couple of occasions where [Mahmood] was right there and he decided that he didn't want to do it. He would talk about one thing, next minute he would change his mind," Drees said.

The Lake Whitney Medical Center has been closed for four months, and no one has come forward to buy it. Former employees hope that one day it will come back for a community who really needs it.

"A lot of bitterness because now we are without a hospital. We are having to transport people to different hospitals when they were so used to being here," Salinas said.

"We have a large elderly population, Medicare and Medicaid as it is, they hurt themselves, they have chest pain. They have to go to Hillsboro, all the way to Waco, all they way to Cleburne to get emergent care," Drees said.

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