In May 2015, Susan Ohle of St. Petersburg gave birth to triplets at the cities Bayfront hospital. The three new babies were immediately transferred to the neonatal intensive care wing at John Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. The babies were never admitted to Bayfront and certainly didn’t enjoy any time in the hospital.
Later, when Ohle received her bill for the children’s delivery she noticed a strange $3,025 “Nursery Level II” charge from Bayfront for each child, a total of $9,075. Her babies had never spent time in the nursery, so Ohle questioned the charge and was shocked to learn Bayfront bills the fee to all children delivered at the hospital, even high-risk babies, like Ohle’s, that are transferred immediately to All Children’s.
Ohle decided to sue Bayfront, owned by Community Health Systems, a publicly traded company based in Tennessee for what she calls a “flawed and fraudulent policy.” Ohle is not alone as the proposed class action lawsuit is seeking damages on behalf of roughly 500 parents who received similar bills for nursery services at the 480–bed hospital.
We contacted Ohle’s attorney, Gus Centrone of Centrone & Shrader who informed us, “What’s strange is when Miss Ohle questioned the charges, Bayfront told her she didn’t owe them but then turned around and sued her.”
According to Pinellas County records Bayfront did indeed file a small claims lawsuit against Ohle in January of this year. Centrone also added that having spoken to other parents of babies delivered at Bayfront, especially triplets who are a “community amongst themselves” many were also billed for similar charges. Bayfront informed those they were either a mistake or billed simply as a matter of course.
“It appears Bayfront haven’t got a straight story and seem unsure of their actual policy,” Centrone said.
If Bayfront knowingly billed parents incorrectly for such charges, they could indeed be liable for over $1 million in incorrect fees.
According to Centrone Bayfront has yet to respond to the suit. SPB contacted Alaina Mose in the public relations department at Bayfront but as of press time have received no reply. SPB also contacted the parent company; Community Health Systems where a voicemail informed us their PR representative Tommy Galen would be out of the office until May 23rd.