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7 Investigates: Healthcare workers without pay and worried about patients after business files for bankruptcy – Boston News, Weather, Sports

The future of healthcare is what staff at Boston Senior Medicine thought they were signing up for, but now they have gone without paychecks and worried patients aren’t getting the care they need.

The Canton-based home-health business aims to bring primary care directly to the homes of senior patients.

“We can really help people, we can go right into their homes and we can bring primary care to them. This is a game changer,” said Randy Veraguas, a former Boston Senior Medicine employee.

At least, that’s what Veraguas thought when he joined the business in 2020 to head its marketing efforts.

The company brought services from X-rays to blood work right to private homes, assisted-living facilities and senior centers.

Jennifer Rohnstock also believed she was helping shape the future of healthcare. As a licensed nurse practitioner, she worked directly with the company’s patients.

“They were signing up patients left and right. Patients are really falling out of the sky because it was an attractive service to offer them,” Rohnstock said she remembers when she joined the team in July 2023.

But Rohnstock and Veraguas said that illusion started to shatter for their final fall.

“There was definitely a ball dropped between the patient and the office,” Rohnstock said.

Former employees told 7 Investigates they believed the number of doctors employed was dwindling and patients were having their appointments cancelled.

“The family would be calling and saying, ‘Where’s the doctor? They didn’t show up. We need to reschedule,’ and then it just started raising a lot of questions,” Rohnstock said.

Veraguas recalled at one point there were hundreds of voicemails found.

“These people were like, ‘Help, help…no one has called me back yet,’” Veraguas said.

She said she would get calls right from patients and would try to get help for them, but she couldn’t address all the concerns.

“For those people who just kept calling the number instead of calling me, I don’t know what happened. It got really, really sad; really, really sad,” she said.

7 Investigates spoke to multiple people whose family members received care from Boston Senior Medicine. They said their calls went unanswered and they had a hard time reaching the business for follow-up appointments. Some couldn’t get their medications refilled, one had to resort to the ER.

“These people, they’re older… it was really hard to kind of watch that happen and know that they weren’t going to be taken care of,” Rohnstock added.

While patients were waiting for medication, employees were waiting for paychecks.

“Weeks went by, I’m like, I’m still waiting to get paid and it never happened,” Rohnstock said.

Dan Stockhaus was the director of operations. He started in September 2023 and said he went more than a month without a paycheck.

“It’s impacted us quite a bit. $11,000 that is a good amount of money and that could go towards quite a bit right now,” he said.

Stockhaus, Veraguas and Rohnstock were all let go last fall.

Veraguas is owed around $50,000 and Rohnstock nearly $10,000, according to a complaint filed in Norfolk Superior Court against Boston Senior Medicine, its owner Patrick Michel and his wife India Michel who serves as the director.

The Massachusetts Attorney General’s Office received 10 complaints related to Boston Senior Medicine between October 2023 and January 2024. The office could not disclose the nature of the complaints or if they were investigating the company.

7 Investigates tried to reach the business. Initial calls went straight to voicemail and this month the number was disconnected. While the signs were still up for the business in the Canton office park, the Boston Senior Medicine offices were empty and dark.

Michel did not return multiple calls and emails for requests for comments. His attorney told 7 Investigations ‘no comment.’

Boston Senior Medicine filed for bankruptcy on February 20. Veraguas, Rohnstock, Stockhaus are among nearly 30 creditors, according to the court records.

While former staff are worried about their paychecks, they are also concerned about the patients who might be without care.

“My concern is for those patients,” Rohnstock said. “If they’re not paying their employees, who do they have left working? And then, you know, are the patients being responded to or their needs not being addressed?”

State records show Michel filed two new businesses in Massachusetts this winter. Both are described in documents as providing nurse practitioner services and both are registered at the same Canton address as Boston Senior Medicine.

(Copyright (c) 2024 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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