Local News

Paramedic Loses Job After Accusing Hospital Of Fraud

Posted June 30, 2004 7:54 a.m. EDT

— A paramedic is out of a job after she accused a prominent Cumberland County hospital of overbilling taxpayers.

She said Wednesday that going public was worth it.

Last month, Melissa Wen Petren produced boxes of records she had kept while working as a Life Link supervisor at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center. She said hospital administrators regularly manipulated emergency transfers to overcharge Medicare, Medicaid and private insurers.

Wen Petren characterized what was going on as "fraud."

Cape Fear Spokesman Clinton Weaver countered by saying: "So far, we haven't found anything to substantiate her claims, nor do we believe them to be true."

Less than a month after WRAL aired the story, Cape Fear notified Wen Petren she was terminated.

"Sure enough, they fired me," she said.

Although Wen Petren never released patient names, hospital officials said she violated policies by taking records and then refusing to return her copies.

Said Wen Petren: "I think they fired me for turning them into the state for Medicaid fraud."

Her reputation damaged, the mother of two is out of work and desperately looking for another job. But she said she would do the same thing again.

"I did what was right," she said.

Although her job at Cape Fear is done, Wen Petren said her fight is not. She is researching her rights under the Federal Whistleblowers' Act.

A Cape Fear spokesperson declined to discuss Wen Petren's case Wednesday, except to say she was not fired for going public with her claims of fraud.