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    sharmasarescammers is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Pontiac General Hospital, also owned by owners of St Martinus in Curacao

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    Pay-to-play residency lawsuit adds to Pontiac General woes
    August 31, 2018 01:51 PM
    Jay Greene
    Crains Business Detroit

    The owners of for-profit Pontiac General Hospital allegedly required the parents of medical school graduate Varun Chopra to make $400,000 in payments in exchange for accepting the 31-year-old into the hospital's family medicine residency program during the fall of 2016, according to a breach of contract lawsuit filed by Satish and Poonam Chopra.

    Satish Chopra, an architect from Brampton, Ontario, said in court documents that he made the $400,000 payment to Pontiac General officials in three checks on Sept. 19 and Sept 20 because he was told by hospital officials and representatives it was the only way his son, now 33, could gain entrance into the residency program. The parents expressed shock at the demand, but wrote the checks, court records show.
    Their lawsuit is one of a number of challenges the hospital and its owners are facing as they deal with an aging building, infrastructure and maintenance problems, charges of employee discrimination, accreditation citations, surprise state health inspections as they invest millions to turn around the hospital.

    The hospital's CEO and co-owner, Sanyam $harma, issued a signed residency contract to Chopra the same date as the final check, Sept. 20, a fact that the hospital doesn't dispute. Most unusual, the signed residency agreement also was completed before Chopra had applied to the Electronic Residency Application Service, an established first step that provides a hospital necessary documents to evaluate qualifications of a potential resident.

    $harma said in a 2017 deposition that he was told by other hospital officials the $400,000 was a "donation" and not a quid pro quo payment that allowed Chopra to enter the hospital's 16-physician family medicine residency program.

    "One was a donation and one was an acceptance into the program," $harma said in his deposition. "They're completely separate."

    Several national medical education experts told Crain's they have never heard of a documented case where a hospital charged a medical school graduate a fee to enter a residency program.
    While not technically illegal, paying fees for residency slots violates many professional medical standards. To become selected as a resident, student doctors apply early each year through what is called the "Match," which is governed by the National Residency Matching Program. Graduates are selected in March and typically start their residency in June.

    Not in dispute is that Chopra was approved for residency by Pontiac General in September after his parents paid $400,000 and was to have started his residency on Nov. 1, 2016, after he secured a J-1 visa and a medical license from the state of Michigan.

    Pontiac General spokesman Michael Layne, president of Marx Layne & Co., declined to comment on the Chopra lawsuit.

    In the lawsuit filed in 2017 in U.S. District Court in Detroit, the Chopras claim they were instructed to pay the $400,000 to secure the residency position for their son, who had graduated in 2009 from American University of Antigua but was unsuccessful in matching in a U.S. or Canadian hospital residency program for the next seven years.

    Andrew Broder, the attorney for the Chopras with Payne Broder & Fossee P.C. of Bingham Farms, said the case has many unusual aspects and difficult to pursue because the Sharmas have been uncooperative, leading District Judge Robert Cleland to cite them for contempt of court.

    In his deposition, Sanyam $harma acknowledged that Chopra was admitted to a month-long residency observership program in October before his residency would have begun. Chopra participated in the program in Pontiac from Oct. 3-26. He leased an apartment in a building the hospital owns along with six other residents and 14 medical students.

    But at this point, different stories emerge about what happened next. Sanyam $harma said Chopra voluntarily "left" the program. Satish Chopra said Pr1yam $harma, Sanyam's mother and hospital COO, called Poonam Chopra on Oct. 26 to say Varun "was summarily dismissed from the residency program" and must leave, court documents say.

    "(Varun) was advised he would not be able to start the residency program" and must leave the country because his J-1 visa sponsorship was being revoked, said Broder, adding that Chopra was not given any more information about why he was being sent home.

    Chopra tried for several days while he was at Pontiac General to get residency and hospital officials, including Carol Samson, residency manager, and Nikhil Hemady, M.D., the hospital's program director and chief of staff, to explain why he was being asked to leave. Court documents state he was unsuccessful. On Nov. 2, he left for home in Brampton.

    Samson, who has been residency program manager for 20 years, said in a deposition that she was told by Hemady that Chopra would not begin the program Nov. 1 as planned. She confirmed Chopra asked her why he could not begin and she told him she wasn't told and didn't know why. Shortly after, she informed the Educational Commission for Foreign Medical Graduates, which sponsored Chopra's visa, that Chopra would not be entering the program.

    "Nothing like this has ever happened," she said in her deposition.

    As the lawsuit continues past its 18th month, Cleland reached a major conclusion early on, in June 2017, about key facts of the case.

    "It is further ordered as a sanction, and deemed established without further proof, that the donated funds in the amount of $400,000 were in fact an entry fee, and a mandatory component of the terms of the residency agreement, operating as a condition precedent to plaintiff Varun Chopra's entry into defendants' residency program."

    In denying a summary judgment request from the Chopras and Sharmas in March, Cleland said what still is in dispute is whether Chopra actually "entered" the residency program. This is because while he was accepted and served a three-week observership pre-residency program, Chopra did not actually begin his residency on Nov. 1, nor did he serve as a resident for "the year" outlined in his contract, Cleland wrote.

    On Aug. 29, Cleland issued his latest order denying the hospital's second motion for dismissal. He said Chopra provided "sufficient allegations ... to sustain recovery" of the $400,000 donation. He ordered a conference Sept. 6 between the parties at federal court in Detroit.

    Financial turnaround coupled with multiple problems

    Pontiac General, legally known as Oakland Physicians Medical Center LLC, has had more than its share of problems over the years as a community hospital.

    The hospital has gone through bankruptcy at least four times since it was established in 1910 as a city hospital and twice since 2008. It has gone through such name changes as Oakland Physicians Medical Center, North Oakland Medical Centers, Doctors Hospital of Michigan, Physicians Medical Center, and since 2016 has been called Pontiac General.

    In early 2016, Pontiac General emerged from bankruptcy after the Sharmas — CEO Sanyam, COO Pr1yam and $anjay, its chief information officer — acquired a 60 percent interest in the hospital and began making repairs and turning it around. Neurosurgeon Jawad $hah owns 25 percent and Surindar Jolly owns 15 percent.

    From 2009 to 2015, Pontiac General lost more than $90 million and had gone through several owners. But in 2016 and 2017 under the Sharmas, the hospital has earned net income of $35.3 million on annual revenue that totaled $182 million in 2017, according to Medicare cost reports provided by American Hospital Directory of Louisville.

    While Pontiac General is licensed for 306 beds, only 36 are staffed in a medical-surgical unit that averages less than 50 percent occupancy. Two of nine operating rooms are functioning. The hospital also operates a 24/7 urgent care center and a 30-bed adult psychiatric unit that averages more than a 90 percent occupancy.

    But two years after emerging from bankruptcy protection, Pontiac General has a whole new set of challenges, including multiple quality, regulatory and accreditation issues — almost all of which it has resolved — based on inspections from the Michigan Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services and the Joint Commission.

    Jack Weiner, director of strategic partnerships for Pontiac General, said in a statement that there are no pending citations from any oversight authority. Repairs to the heating and cooling system will be completed by the end of the year, he said.

    "When we bought the building out of bankruptcy in 2016, structural maintenance had been neglected for years," said Weiner, who is the former CEO of St. ****** Oakland Hospital in Pontiac. "Upon acquisition, we made a multimillion-dollar investment and are continuing to invest in repairs, growing the hospital and providing care to our patients."

    Still, former nurses, managers and other employees also told Crain's stories of discrimination against Muslim and Arabic workers, lack of nurses to support patient load, not scheduling attending doctors to supervise residents and medical students from 7 p.m. to 7 a.m. and hiring emergency medical technicians instead of paramedics and nurses during midnight shifts in the urgent care center to save money.

    Pontiac General officials denied the practices cited by former employees and said attending doctors are present 24 hours.

    Other sources told Crain's about problems in the psychiatric unit where young psychotic patients or those with substance abuse problems are mixed with elderly geriatric patients, creating dangerous situations for patients and staff. Medical screening of patients also is insufficient, leading to poor patient care, sources said.

    State health inspectors have documented at least two deaths in the psychiatric unit since the Sharmas have been responsible for the hospital. The first occurred Oct. 9, 2015, shortly after the Sharmas began operating the hospital as a debtor-in-possession, and the second happened on Nov. 22, 2016, after they assumed ownership. Details of the circumstances of the deaths have been redacted from the LARA report for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that Crain's obtained.

    Pontiac General denied any psychiatric patients have died at the hospital.

    Weiner has told Crain's in previous interviews that patients have never been in danger because of hospital practices.

    "As part of our investment, we have hired employees in every department, including skilled medical experts and staff, to serve our patients. Pontiac General Hospital has become the premier hospital for mental health services, providing compassionate and expert care in treating an underserved population," Weiner said.

    Last December, three employees filed an EEOC complaint against the hospital, claiming they were discriminated against because of their Arabic ethnicity and Muslim faith. Several other employees quit or were fired because they protested patient care conditions, lack of staffing and alleged disrespect, said four former employees who requested anonymity.

    Weiner said two-thirds of the hospital's 295 employees are minorities. "Allegations made by a former employee are untrue and inconsistent with our culture and the values by which we run our business," he said. "We are committed to treating all employees, patients and vendors fairly and with dignity and respect. Discrimination is not tolerated and statements to the contrary are hurtful and damaging."

    Hospital officials confirmed the director of nursing and an ICU nurse were fired last summer and several other nurses and employees have resigned for various reasons.

    "We are upgrading staff from human resources to dietary, infection control, laboratory, all to improve quality," Weiner said in an interview earlier this year. "We have significant plans to do better."

    A nursing manager told Crain's that the decision to do away with clinical nurse administrators who were willing to be advocates for the patients led to the firing of the nursing team in 2017. She said the firings were to silence the employees who were asking for more staff and questioning policies.

    Pontiac General officials denied any employee was fired for expressing their opinions.

    Weiner said the hospital has increased staff since 2016. However, the hospital has 500 fewer workers than in 2008.

    Sources also said nearly all of the hospital's medical coding department have resigned because work is outsourced to a Texas-based company, InfraHealth Group, which is owned by $anjay $harma and uses workers based in India.

    Weiner said a small percentage of cases are coded by an outside medical administrative services company in India. He said the hospital has added staff in the medical coding department and denied any staff have left in protest.

    Quality inspections show mixed results

    Crain's obtained more than 100 pages of state and federal inspection reports through the Freedom of Information Act dating to 2012. Another 100 pages were denied for release. Reviewing the documents, Crain's found that owners before the Sharmas were cited for failure to meet various standards, but some problems continued into early 2018, and some have been fixed.

    Inspections by LARA found severe roof damage and inadequate maintenance, water damage in ceilings, stained carpet, lack of proper door seals in the event of a fire and substandard ventilation to prevent infection from spreading.

    In 2017, LARA found the hospital had "failed to develop and maintain an active hospital wide infection control program for the prevention, control and investigation of infections." LARA concluded lack of training for an inspection control officer could increase the chances of infections.

    In January and March, state inspectors were at the hospital to follow up on new complaints from employees and patients.

    LARA spent three days at Pontiac General in January to investigate complaints about burst water pipes and a loss of heat in some patient care areas. Hospital employees told Crain's patients complained, but hospital officials said few patients were affected. LARA said one patient was moved because loss of heat in a unit that dropped the temperature to 62 degrees.

    The inspection also found pipes in the ceiling above the cafeteria leaking raw sewage.

    Weiner said the roof has been repaired and pipes have been fixed.

    However, several other complaints, including lack of telemetry monitoring of patients, psychiatrists holding patients against their will and Medicare fraud were found by LARA to be unsubstantiated.

    Over the past year, Pontiac General has spent more than $2 million to upgrade its heating and cooling systems along with improving infection control, Weiner said. The improvements were mandated from an accreditation review last year by the Joint Commission.

    Charges in India

    In 2010, the $harma family purchased the license of shuttered St. Martinus University Faculty School of Medicine on the Dutch island of Curacao and reopened it in 2011. $anjay $harma is president of the school. It currently is unaccredited but has started the process with the Caribbean Accreditation Authority for Education in Medicine, the regional agency recognized by the World Federation for Medical Education. It is charted by the government of Curacao and recognized by medical education bodies.

    Weiner said St. Martinus has about 500 students with a low 2-3 percent dropout rate. He said its match rate to residency programs for students was 66 percent in 2017. Since the school is private and unaccredited, Crain's could not independently verify the data.

    In a 2016 interview, Sanyam $harma described the business plans of the family. "We have Infrahealth (medical coding and administrative services) and the medical school. But if we want to really increase our revenue and business, we needed to buy a provider. That's why we identified this project (Pontiac General)."

    Sanyam $harma said in 2016 the medical school planned to send 50 students a month to the hospital for rotations in family practice, psychiatry, surgery, pain management and radiology, generating up to $80,000 per month for the hospital by 2018.

    Earlier this year, the India Times reported that five people were arrested and three sought in Noida for participating in a fake medical school document scam that sold forged records to people seeking to apply at international medical schools. Crain's was unable to reach the Noida police department for comment.

    At least one of the alleged participants is a member of the $harma family who owns Pontiac General and one was an employee of St. Martinus, according to the India Times, which cited a police report filed by Noida Officer Rajeev ***** Singh.

    Singh and other police raided an office called Sant Martin Administrative Services and arrested five people, including Marut $harma, on several counts of fraud. Three others were being sought, including $anjay $harma, Pontiac General CIO; and Lalit Arora, who was director of admissions of St. Martinus and is listed as the general manager of InfraHealth.

    Weiner said the Indian judicial system differs from the U.S. system. "False and damaging statements were made against St. Martinus Administrative Services which operates by the highest standards and with the utmost integrity, helps collect admissions documents to apply to medical school," he said.

    "While no criminal charges have been filed, we are confident that this matter will be quickly resolved in our favor," he said.

    Noida police accused Sant Martin employees of charging people about $1,600 each for falsified medical school applications for schools mainly in the Netherlands. St. Martinus is based in Curacao, which is a province of the Netherlands.

    Officer Singh said in his report that police recovered fake medical certificates, police verification certificates, birth certificates and fake stamps of some doctors and police officials from their possession, the India Times said.

    But the breach of contract lawsuit filed by the parents of Varun Chopra, who says he was promised a family medicine residency position if his parents paid Pontiac General $400,000, is one of the more serious accusations against the hospital.

    A spokesman for the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education, which accredits residency programs, declined comment about the status of the Pontiac General program. Weiner confirmed the ACGME recently inspected the program several months ago and it was re-accredited. He said the family medicine residency program has always scored high marks under Hemady.

    Two sources told Crain's they have since reported the $400,000 payment and other problems with Pontiac General to the ACGME, the NMRP and the Association of American Medical Colleges, which manages ERAS. Crain's contacted the organizations, and none wanted to comment.

    What was donation for?

    In his deposition, Sanyam $harma was asked why the Chopras would donate money to a for-profit hospital that they had no connection with and had never seen before. Donations are not tax-deductible to for-profit hospitals.

    "There are lots of reasons people donate money," he said, adding that one reason is "they want to see the hospital succeed."

    Satish Chopra said in court filings he learned of the possibility of paying for a residency slot from Paraminder Minhas, who also lives in Brampton, Ontario. Chopra said Minhas told him he gave the hospital a donation for his two children to enter Pontiac General's residency program. Crain's could not reach Minhas, but a source familiar with the residency program said Minhas' son, Dijot, is a current resident. Minhas' daughter, Gurman, completed her residency in 2016 and is a family practice doctor.

    Court documents provided by Pontiac General show that Minhas donated $99,000 on March 29, 2016, and $100,000 on May 1, 2016. During 2016 and 2017, the hospital collected $679,000 in donations in 36 separate payments. The three Chopra donations totaling $400,000 were not listed.

    In a sworn affidavit dated March 27, 2017, Minhas acknowledged making a $250,000 donation to the hospital, but he denied that the money was to secure residency spots for his two children. He said he had made three separate payments to the hospital by the end of summer of 2016.

    Broder said Chopra was excited about the opportunity to fulfill his dream to become a practicing doctor.

    On October 28, 2016, Varun Chopra emailed Hemady, stating in part, "It was very disappointing to hear that I will not be starting my post graduate training at Pontiac General Hospital. Unfortunately, I have only been told through second hand sources that I will not be starting the program."

    On Nov. 1, Sanyam $harma wrote a letter to Varun Chopra stating that he "no longer has a relationship with the hospital because he withdrew from the program." In Sanyam's deposition, he said no hospital officials removed him from the program. However, he was told that there was "an unprofessional demeanor about Varun during the observership program."

    In a court document filed by Pontiac General attorneys March 27, 2017, hospital officials said that Chopra was a poor resident candidate, late for mandatory meetings and disrespectful to teaching doctors. Despite those criticisms, after Chopra left the program, "the hospital tried repeatedly to get Dr. Chopra to return to the residency program."

    While Sanyam $harma said the hospital did not terminate Chopra's residency, the residency agreement both parties signed includes a provision allowing the hospital to terminate the agreement at its discretion if it finds that the resident has failed to fulfill his or her obligations under it.

    "Chopra signed a residency agreement, he had an observership agreement and he had a lease," Broder said. "He was planning to complete the residency program" when he was told he was no longer wanted, Broder said.

    Shortly after Varun Chopra left Pontiac for Canada on Nov. 2, the Chopras attempted to get a refund of the $400,000, but the Sharmas refused, asserting it was a voluntary donation.
    Last edited by sharmasarescammers; 09-01-2018 at 02:45 AM.

  2. #2
    tillcoll's Avatar
    tillcoll is offline Newbie 510 points
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    very interesting, thanks!

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    sharmasarescammers is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Please see the story by WXYZ TV broadcast last night regarding Pontiac General Hospital.

    Please go to youtube and search WXYZ and Pontiac General Hospital to find it and other stories about PGH.

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    Atlantichater is offline Junior Member 512 points
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    This Family Medicine residency training program at Pontiac General hospital will now be in a world of hurt because of the media spotlight.

    The ACGME will likely investigate this claim, and depending on the federal lawsuit outcome, will most likely have Pontiac General's family medicine residency training accreditation removed.

    This is considered Medicare fraud because the Medicare budget pays for residency training physician slots nationwide and "pay for play" allows potentially "unqualified" candidates to receive undeserved medicare funds to pay their salaries as physician residents.

    This has felony written all over it.

    The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services can also investigate the program and hospital for fraud since there were reported instances of previous and current "unqualified" residents who paid for their residency seats, thus taking Medicare subsidized resident salaries.


    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oEv-nTt1Cvs
    Last edited by Atlantichater; 09-06-2018 at 02:14 PM.

  5. #5
    sharmasarescammers is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atlantichater View Post
    This Family Medicine residency training program at Pontiac General hospital will now be in a world of hurt because of the media spotlight.

    The ACGME will likely investigate this claim, and depending on the federal lawsuit outcome, will most likely have Pontiac General's family medicine residency training accreditation removed.

    This is considered Medicare fraud because the Medicare budget pays for residency training physician slots nationwide and "pay for play" allows potentially "unqualified" candidates to receive undeserved medicare funds to pay their salaries as physician residents.

    thank you for posting the link. can you please post the links to the other Pontiac General Hospital stories, including the story about the patient that died, James Dean Reed.

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    Atlantichater is offline Junior Member 512 points
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    Sharmasarescammers:

    I don't work for you.

    You can post other media links on your own.

  7. #7
    sharmasarescammers is offline Newbie 510 points
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    Quote Originally Posted by Atlantichater View Post
    Sharmasarescammers:

    I don't work for you.

    You can post other media links on your own.

    i do not have a high enough post count to post links. they are easily found by searching "pontiac general hospital" on youtube so no worries.

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    sharmasarescammers is offline Newbie 510 points
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    September 08, 2018 09:10 AM 29 MINUTES AGO
    Pontiac General 'pay-for-play' residency case goes to trial Oct. 3
    JAY GREENE
    Crain's Detroit Business

    U.S. District Court Judge Robert Cleland on Thursday ordered a jury trial Oct. 3 in the breach-of-contract lawsuit filed by the Canadian parents of an international medical school graduate who paid $400,000 believing their son would be accepted into Pontiac General Hospital's family medicine residency program.

    In the fall of 2016, Satish and Poonan Chopra, of Brampton, Ontario, paid $400,000 to the family owners of Pontiac General under the impression their son, Varun Chopra, a 33-year-old medical school graduate, would be accepted into the program, said Andrew Broder, the attorney for the Chopra's with Payne, Broder & Fossee, P.C., in Bingham Farms.

    Broder said jury instructions are due next week. "There will be a ton of work to do to prepare for trial," he said.

    "Dr. Chopra and his parents look forward to their day in court, having waited almost two years to get back the $400,000 residency program fee charged by the defendant hospital," Broder said in an email to Crain's. "They are confident that justice will be served and that the court will ultimately order the hospital to return the funds with interest."


    Spokespeople for the owners of Pontiac General were unavailable for comment. The Sharmas, Sanyam, Pr1yam and Sanj4y, who own a majority share of the hospital, have said the $400,000 was only a donation to the hospital and not tied to accepting Chopra into the program.

    Crain's published a story Aug. 31 about the lawsuit that documented the series of events beginning late summer 2016 that started with the $400,000 payment by the Chopras. Varun Chopra entered a pre-residency program in October 2016, but never started the residency program Nov. 1, as was the terms of his residency contract.

    One issue in the lawsuit is whether Varun voluntarily left the program or was dismissed by hospital officials and told to go home. The Chopras contend Varun was told to go home. The Sharmas claim Varun left the program and they unsuccessfully tried to contact him to return.

    On Aug. 29, Cleland said the Chopras provided "sufficient allegations ... to sustain recovery" of the $400,000 donation.
    Last edited by sharmasarescammers; 09-08-2018 at 08:22 AM.

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