Stop the Hospice Extremists who Have
Hijacked the Hospice of the Florida $uncoast ! !
Who are the extremists that have taken over the hospice and hijacked it for their own agenda? From the St. Petersburg Times and other documents, it is clear that the extremists who have taken over this hospice are Mary Labyak and Teresa Craig. Mary Labyak is the C.E.O. of the hospice and President of $uncoast $olutions. Teresa Craig is C.E.O. of the for-profit experimental venture, $uncoast $olutions, that is designed to make money for those on its payroll. $uncoast $olutions is not an altruistic charitable undertaking at all: it's all about money!
Teresa Craig and Mary Labyak know they can (and are) paying those who work at $uncoast much more than the hospice could ever pay its regular employees. Bonuses can be given to reward anyone they choose, including themselves. Mary Labyak is able to squeeze the money out of the Hospice Foundation with promises to use the money for the hospice itself, and then turn around and make sure she and Teresa get to play with the money DONATED by the public for services to the patients!
Hospice Extremists Miss the Mark
What is the agenda of $uncoast $olutions? Making Money! Is it extreme to take millions of donated dollars designated for services to the dying and use them in a money-making venture where people are paid extremely well for their participation in the money-making venture? We think so. We think it misses the mark of what hospice is all about.
What is the mission of hospice anyway? Hospice Patients Alliance and most hospices state that hospice is there to serve the dying, relieve their symptoms and allow them to die a natural death in its own time. That's what Hospice Patients Alliance is working for: to further the mainstream of hospice thought which is the foundation of the hospice industry.
Labyak and Craig Do Not Represent Mainstream Hospice Practice
Labyak wishes to change what hospice has been about. She sees the hospice as an opportunity to further an extreme agenda. Labyak's vision is to transform hospice from a service that respects the lives of the patients, holding sacred the trust the public places in the hospice, and wishes to replace it with an icy-cold opportunism that betrays the trust of the patients. Her vision and "leadership" have dragged this hospice into a complete ethical disaster where the hospice is cooperating in the ongoing conspirary to murder Terri Schiavo. Labyak, along with Teresa Craig have also involved the hospice in questionable financial dealings that now require a court case to straighten out.
It is not mainstream hospice thought that donations to a nonprofit be taken and diverted from patient services to a for-profit undertaking!
Mary Labyak is leading this hospice (and the industry) in a direction which furthers her extremist agenda in making hospice a place to kill the disabled! Mary Labyak is recognized as a leader of the national hospice industry, asked to speak at national conventions about hospice by the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization and other groups. Do these organizations question her extremist agenda of killing patients in hospice? Not one bit! Not one statement from these national groups has condemned the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast for wrongly admitting Terri Schiavo into hospice! That is very, very troubling, to say the least.
We know that there are some who have protested the illegal placement of Terri Schiavo in hospice. And we know that some within this hospice have questioned it. Hospice is for terminal patients, however Terri Schiavo is a defenseless disabled woman in need of therapy. Mary Labyak wishes to use the hospice to kill her and make it possible for hospices all over the country to kill the disabled. That is absolutely extreme and evil! Yet, that is exactly the vision that Mary Labyak has. We know that some on the board of directors have questioned Terri's placement in the hospice, but they have not insisted that this hospice NOT be a place of killing the disabled. They have failed to act upon principles basic to hospice.
Shame on the Board of Directors!
The Hospice of the Florida $uncoast's Board of Directors has a fiduciary duty to see that funds donated to the nonprofit hospice are used for services to the dying, NOT for killing the disabled. That is not the mission of hospice! By choosing not to block the admission of a non-terminal patient into the hospice, the board (and every member of the board) has shown itself to be a spineless collection of shameless rubber-stamping followers. They do not have the guts to stand up to the extreme and evil design of Mary Labyak. Shame!
But it appears that this board (and all its members) has no shame. They are willing to violate the federal law that forbids admitting non-terminal patients into hospice. They are willing to violate the very foundation of hospices all over our nation. Even if David Ridenour is called "Director of Organizational Ethics," it is obviously a title with no meaning and which he cares nothing about. He has not acted to preserve the ethics of the organization.
And yes, he can say that he "tried to resign" but the fact is he chose to stay. He knows that what is happening is wrong, yet he has not forced the issue to be resolved. As Director of Organizational Ethics he is directly responsible to uphold that which is ethical and consistent with the mission of hospice. He has not done that. Does he have a clear conscience about all of this? No, but he has chosen his part: to work with those who disgrace hospice and to go along with all of it!
Has the hospice been hijacked? Without a doubt! Is there a way to save this hospice? Certainly! But it will take more than a bunch of spineless directors on the board who do nothing without asking Mary Labyak's permission! Those who do not speak up are part of the problem and co-conspirators with Mary Labyak! Does Mary Labyak care about the patients? Does Mary Labyak object to taking donated funds (supposed to go to services to the dying) and divert them to the for-profit venture? Obviously not!
Labyak admits that more than a million dollars has been diverted from the hospice to the for-profit $uncoast $olutions! She tries to explain it away by saying it is a "loan," but nobody has informed us of any loan declared on the books of the for-profit $uncoast $olutions. We would like to see it if it exists. Everybody knows that if a loan is taken out, a contract is written defining the terms of the loan, commonly with interest to be paid. When the public donated to this hospice, they did not intend for their donations to be used for profit! Not to the tune of more than a millions dollars, which is what Labyak admits. The class action lawsuit and hospice's own internal documents show that over $7 million has been diverted over the past few years to the for-profit. Labyak admits diverting the funds. We believe that the diversion gets "extreme" when we're talking about millions of dollars. Whether it's one million or seven million, it still is unbelievable, unacceptable and a betrayal of the trust of the donors!
That Labyak admits to diverting more than a million dollars of donated funds to the for-profit is astounding. But the abuse of donations goes on in various forms of personal use of the funds. The St. Petersburg Times mentioned a hospice manager who used $3,000 in donations to have her roof fixed while taking advantage of her position as manager of donations coming into the hospice to buy the donated house at below market prices! This appears to be just the tip of the iceberg, so to speak.
When Mary Labyak drives around in her $ 31,000 (THIRTY-ONE THOU$AND DOLLAR) dark blue "free to her" 2003 Chrysler Sebring luxury convertible (paid for by donations to the hospice) visiting those clubs or sits around in her posh Condo, does she worry about the staff who may be overworked? Is she overly concerned about services to the patients? Does Teresa Craig worry about the staff or patient services when she drives around in her $30,000 (THIRTY THOU$AND DOLLAR) gold "free to her" Chrysler Sebring luxury convertible (paid for by donations to the hospice)? Does Mike Bell worry about the staff or patient services when he drives around in his $ 30,000 (THIRTY THOU$AND DOLLAR) silver "free to him" Chrysler Sebring luxury convertible (paid for by donations to the hospice)? Do they have a conscience that might bother them knowing that donations to the hospice pay for their luxury cars and other perks and bonuses? Obviously not.
They know that while big bonuses are being doled out over at $uncoast, while they get their perks like ("free" to them) luxury cars and bonuses (declared or hidden), those funds used to pay for their perks are not available to pay for services to the patients. They also know that staff salaries had been frozen for the past few years (oh yes, they finally gave them a small raise). And another question that lingers: are there hidden payments to the managers of the hospice and $uncoast $olutions that are hidden among other items in the financial statements? Are the salary, perks and all benefits paid to the managers openly listed for all to see? That remains to be brought out in the class action lawsuit filed in the Pinellas County Circuit Court.
Any board of directors that is thinking straight would have cut its losses long ago, would have gotten rid of the opportunist extremists who are perverting the direction the hospice is taking and would have returned the hospice to its original mission of service to the patients which is the reason the community values the hospice. But this board has shown no courage and no integrity! This board of directors owes the community a big apology and immediate action to correct the problems at the hospice! Until then, they are co-conspirators in whatever wrongdoing is uncovered through the court case unfolding in Pinellas County Circuit Court!
Shame on the Staff Who Cooperate in the Coverup!
How does the hospice treat employees who speak out against the extreme views of Mary Labyak? Does it reward employees who remain true to the original mission? Or does it attempt to silence them, one way or the other? Are people who work there feeling free to speak their minds? Or do they work in fear of crossing Mary? And what they know must truly trouble them. Knowing of violations but doing nothing about it. Not going to the authorities. Not telling the truth. Hiding the truth. Cooperating in the conspiracy.
Do the staff know that most agencies that get caught with violations blame the staff and pick out scapegoats to fire? Do the staff know that there have been many situations where those staff who followed obediently in carrying out violations of the law have been used to get the agencies out of the fix? The logic used by management is: deny you ever knew anything about it, blame the staff and fire the staff, and then keep on trucking! Yet, the staff only find out too late. That's the school of "hard knocks." You only learn after you've been exploited and used and thrown out like tissue paper. How many staff have to be hurt before staff will come out and speak?
Loyalty to the Hospice Mission or to Unethical Hospice Practices?
The hospice website states that:
"The Hospice of the Florida Suncoast was born of the thoughtful pledge made by a few dedicated volunteers 25 years ago -- a pledge to improve end-of-life services for the people of Pinellas County -- a pledge to value all aspects and phases of life."
What is it that Mary Labyak doesn't understand about valuing "all aspects and phases of life?" Is Terri Schiavo's life valued by Mary Labyak and those who conspire together to kill her? Does Terri qualify as being part of "ALL" aspects of life? Does she deserve consideration as the vulnerable disabled woman she is? Would the founders of the Hospice of the Florida Suncoast turn over in their graves seeing their hospice turned into a killing field? Is Mary Labyak's vision true to the mission of the founders of this hospice quoted above from its website and promotional literature? Do Labyak and the hospice still truly value all life, including Terri Schiavo's?
And what about the staff at the hospice? Some hospice employees have left this hospice and have been disgusted with the actions of the leaders. But some have chosen to stay. Will they cooperate in the killing of Terri Schiavo? Will they think they are "serving" Terri by starving her to death if the judge orders that her tube feedings may be stopped? Will they hold their heads high in pride, knowing they did their best for Terri?
Did Hitler's Nazi SS know they were doing wrong? What about the low-level soldiers who killed the Jews, the disabled, the mentally ill? They cried out when they were tried for war crimes, "we were only following orders! We are loyal soldiers!" But what were they loyal to? What are the staff loyal to? Are they loyal to the hospice mission and the patients as well as the trust of the public? Or, are they loyal to leaders who have led them down a dark path? If a judge orders that the feeding tube for Teri Schiavo can be removed, any staff that cooperate in that removal or cessation of feeding, would be co-conspirators in the murder of a defenseless disabled woman.
The Nazis killed the disabled. Any hospice worker who does the same, even with court approval, would be guilty of murder. The public knows that each person IS responsible for what they choose to do. Those who follow orders which violate the laws of humanity will certainly answer to a higher authority, eventually. Killing defenseless Terri Schiavo would be a crime against humanity, a crime against Terri and a betrayal of everything mainstream hospice stands for.
Any employee who chooses not to speak up to the authorities is helping the cover up, helping the violations continue, and helping to send this hospice into an ethical disaster zone, with great harm to the mission of hospice. Employees who know about the breach of confidentiality, but remain silent, are co-conspirators in the coverup of the breach of confidentiality. Employees who know about diversion of donated funds to the personal benefit of hospice managers or others, and remain silent, are co-conspirators in those actions.
If no employee were willing to just "go along" with the violations and look the other way, the extremists running the hospice would never get away with all of this! Every employee at the hospice knows it is against the law and unethical to share actual confidential data with others who are not directly involved in the care of patients at the hospice. Every employee knows that killing the disabled is wrong. And every employee of the hospice knows that taking donations which were given to the nonprofit hospice for services to the dying, and using them for profit is wrong. Those who donated to the hospice did not wish to donate to a money-making venture; they donated to the mission of the hospice which is serving the patients in the nonprofit hospice.
There is nothing wrong with trying to create software to serve hospice agencies. And there is nothing wrong with having a for-profit business so long as the funds used to create that for-profit venture come from investors who knowingly invest their funds in the undertaking. What is wrong is to give the public the impression that their donations are going to direct services to the patients and then shunt their donations over to the for-profit, where staff are paid extremely well, while simultaneously cutting costs at the nonprofit which directly serves the patients!
Staff at this hospice or any hospice need to remain true to the mission of hospice. Extremists who hijack hospices and pervert the activities of the hospice, violating the hospice mission, should be removed from power. These hospice extremists tarnish the image of hospice that hospice staff have worked so hard to achieve, through their dedicated service to the patients. Staff who remain silent are co-conspirators! And even though they can cry out, "I was just following orders!" The law does not view "following orders" as an excuse to violate the laws and regulations governing hospice or any business.
If this hospice is ever prosecuted for any violations found during an investigation, it is certain that a staff member will be used as the scapegoat. Staff members of this hospice: beware! Even former employees may be used as scapegoats. Resigning alone does not exempt one from responsibility for what you have done or known about beforehand. Those who have covered up wrongdoing will be considered co-conspirators and part of the problem. Those who expose wrongdoing are part of the solution and among those who will bring this hospice back on track.
Anyone having further information about the Hospice of the Florida $uncoast and its practices is advised to contact the plaintiffs' attorney of record:
Amy Catledge, Esq
BELTZ, RUTH, NEWMAN & KOHL, PA
South Trust Bank Building
150 - 2nd Avenue North, 15th Floor
St. Petersberg, FL 33701
(727) 327-3222 - Tel.