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Clark County School employees sue Teachers Health Trust – Las Vegas Review

cbfd9_1x1.trans Clark County School employees sue Teachers Health Trust - Las Vegas Reviewcbfd9_1x1.trans Clark County School employees sue Teachers Health Trust - Las Vegas Review

The embattled Teachers Health Trust, which provides health insurance for thousands of Clark County School District employees and their dependents, faces a new legal challenge.

District employees on Tuesday filed a class-action lawsuit alleging breach of contract, consumer fraud and other actions that they say has resulted in employees paying more for their health care and receiving less.

The lawsuit, filed in state District Court in Las Vegas, names both the trust, its seven trustees and WellHealth Quality Care, which manages the trust’s network of doctors, as defendants. It claims that WellHealth violated its contract with the trust by refusing to pay claims, charging a $20 co-pay that was higher than the $10 cap, and leaving teachers with higher yearly out-of-pocket expense than the $6,800 cap that was promised.

“They were paying insurance premiums for something they didn’t ultimately get,” said Mitchell Bisson, one of two attorneys representing the employees. “They were supposed to get product A, they got product Z — if any product at all.”

In some cases, employees were sued over unpaid medical bills or were refused medical treatment, the lawsuit states.

But the lawsuit also lays blame on the trust and its Board of Trustees, claiming that they turned a “blind eye” to the “gross mismanagement and ineptitude” of WellHealth.

“The problems with WellHealth were well known to the Teachers Health Trust, and to its individual trustees, yet nothing was done,” the lawsuit states. “It is estimated that there may be as many as 30,000 union members who, like plaintiffs, paid health insurance premiums to WellHealth but did not receive the promised health care.”

The trust’s chief operating officer, Kim Phillips, said in an email that the trust had no comment. WellHealth did not immediately return a request for comment.

The lawsuit is the latest blow to the trust, which also faces a whistle-blowing legal challenge from members of its former executive board.

The former trust employees — CEO Gary Earl, Chief Operating Officer Felipe Danglapin, Director of Operations Philip DiGiacomo, and executive assistant Michael Ielpi — claim that the trust breached its fiduciary duty by entering into no-bid contracts that hiked its administrative costs from WellHealth and other providers.

The former employees say they witnessed a series of questionable financial decisions by trust managers and alleged that Earl was rebuked when he questioned a proposal to build four clinics that would cost over $1 million each.

The former employees last summer had plans to sue the trust and John Vellardita, executive director of the Clark County Education Association. But the trust struck first, filing a lawsuit against the plaintiffs that accused them of releasing confidential information to the district and making unauthorized purchases on trust credit cards.

The trust also is locked in battle with the Clark County School District, which filed an unfair labor practice complaint over lack of access to financial information required for contract negotiations, where health care is likely a contentious point.

Teachers have lobbied the district for higher insurance contributions, but the School Board has lost faith in the trust’s financial capabilities. Its proposal to switch to UnitedHealthcare insurance instead, however, has also been met with strong resistance by educators.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Contact Amelia Pak-Harvey at apak-harvey@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4630. Follow @AmeliaPakHarvey on Twitter.

What the hack: Winston-Salem, Forsyth County officials work to keep local government computer systems safe – Winston

Winston-Salem and Forsyth County officials say they have safeguards in place that should prevent some hacker from sneaking into their computers and locking up the data they contain, although they’re also aware that they can never say never.

A hacker or hackers attacked Mecklenburg County computers earlier in the week, using an encryption process to make files on the computers inaccessible, then demanding $23,000 to free the data.

Mecklenburg County officials said they wouldn’t pay and would restore the data themselves from backups.

That’s exactly what would happen here. too, said Tom Kureczka, the city of Winston-Salem’s chief information officer.

“We are not going to pay anyone,” Kureczka said. If his computer were to become infected with a virus, he said, “we are going to blow away my PC and recover with a backup.”

Forsyth County Manager Dudley Watts said that paying a hacker’s ransom demand would depend on “circumstances and benefits,” but that regular computer backups minimize the risk.

“When they whack us with that, all we have to do is get the backup from the previous night,” Watts said.

Gary Koontz, the county’s chief technology officer, said the county has layers of protection that should keep most hackers out. Individual computers have been hit, Koontz said, but the damage hasn’t gone to servers or been “systemic” in character.

In Mecklenburg County, an employee clicked on an email attachment and inadvertently downloaded spyware and a virus that infected almost 50 of the county’s 500 computer servers.

Whoever was responsible for the hacking attack didn’t actually obtain any information from the computers. Rather, they made it impossible for county employees to access the information.

It’s as if a thief tried to break into your house, failed and instead messed up your locks so you couldn’t get in either, Kureczka said.

In Mecklenburg, the cybercriminals came back Thursday for a second attempt.

As the county’s IT staff worked to recover from the first cyberattack, County Manager Dena Diorio said, it discovered more attempts to compromise computers and data.

Diorio described the aftermath of the ransomware attack as a “crisis.”

Kureczka said Winston-Salem has some safeguards in place that should stop a hacker from getting as far as one did in Mecklenburg.

“Throughout the day, we are backing up employees’ hard drives,” Kureczka said. We are backing up the employee data files. We are constantly doing backups.”

The city contracts with Microsoft to have email routed through a data-containment center that checks everything before sending it on to the city, Kureczka said.

“They will click on every attachment and every link to a website,” he said, adding that hopefully an email such as the one that hit Mecklenburg would never make it to an employee’s desktop.

Hopefully.

Kureczka said protection is one of his primary job responsibilities, “and I feel pretty good about where we are at. We are always vulnerable. You never want to say never. But we have some things in place that keep us pretty well-protected.”

City computers have antivirus software that updates daily, he said. If an employee sticks a thumb drive into a computer, any contents are scanned before they’re allowed into the system. The city has hundreds of servers, and they are all protected by firewalls.

Koontz said the county uses Google to monitor email. If something comes across that the system does not recognize, he said, it puts it into a “sandbox” where it can be opened without causing damage.

“The concept we refer to is defense in depth,” Koontz said, noting that the first effort is to prevent an intrusion. After that, the focus is trying to mitigate any damage and restore data.

“I’d like to think we are better off” than Mecklenburg County, Koontz said, noting that while a lot of effort goes into protection, the bad guys are busy working, too.

Protection on individual computers, it’s hoped, will prevent anything that gets through the other layers from causing damage, he said.

The virus that infected Mecklenburg infected is called LockCrypt and originated in Iran or Ukraine. The city works with the U.S. Department of Homeland Security to both receive information about new threats and pass along word of any computer threats the city gets.

And boy, do they get them:

“You would be amazed at the number of hits we get every day from other countries,” Kureczka said. “It is in the millions, in one week alone.”

Numbers like that are possible because computers can be set up to make robotic attacks.

“They set these up and they keep knocking at our door,” he said.

Koontz said the county gets a constant barrage from hackers, too. Although machines carry out robotic attacks, he said, if they get inside the system “a human jumps in and tries to exploit that.”

He said it is important for computer users to do their part, and that’s another layer of protection the county uses.

“We make our end users and customers aware of safe computer practices — don’t click on suspicious links or websites,” Koontz said.

“The human element is where the vulnerabilities come in,” he said.

Spokane County budget includes $400000 cut for regional health district – The Spokesman

As Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich called on the Spokane County Commission to preserve funding for his department, volunteers from SCOPE – the sheriff’s community-oriented policing effort – turned out in droves to reinforce his message, declaring public safety a top priority at several budget hearings this year.

Their efforts seemed to pay off this week, when the commission passed a 2018 budget that not only avoids cuts to law enforcement but gives the Spokane County Sheriff’s Office a modest funding increase.

Commissioners did, however, look elsewhere to avert a $9.4 million budget shortfall. The Spokane Regional Health District, for example, saw its share of county funding reduced by 17 percent, to $2 million.

“I would offer that public health is public safety,” said Torney Smith, the health district’s administrator. “Our role is to protect the health of the community, and this makes it harder to do that.”

County funding for the health district – which is a stand-alone agency and not a county department – has dropped each year since 2015. Since 2009, Smith said, it has fallen nearly $900,000, about 30 percent.

That, along with stagnant funding from the state and no contributions from city coffers, has forced the health district to make “significant adjustments” since about 2000, he said. That’s when Initiative 695 and subsequent legislative action changed Washington’s tax structure, leaving counties to pay more for public health agencies, as well as services such as transit.

“They are sort of the sole supporters, locally, of public health, but that’s what the law says: It’s a county obligation,” Smith said.

On Thursday, the health district’s governing board, which includes all three county commissioners, passed its own budget for 2018 totaling about $30.1 million – significantly larger than this year’s budget of $26.7 million. Smith said the increase is partly because the agency needed to expand its methadone treatment program for opioid addicts.

While the county’s contribution is a relatively small piece of the health district’s budget, Smith said it’s one of few “flexible” funding sources that can be used for epidemiology work, such as monitoring the spread of the flu virus and studying the prevalence of diabetes.

Most of the agency’s revenue, Smith said, comes in the form of program-specific grants with many strings attached. One special-education grant, for example, passes through the health district and is ultimately spent by contractors such as the Spokane Guild School, he said.

Smith said the county funding cut likely wouldn’t result in layoffs next year, but he said the health district would run out of other options if the county’s contributions continue in decline.

“This isn’t going to put us under right away, but we’re certainly heading in the wrong direction,” he said.

Commissioner Al French said the commissioners needed to prioritize county departments before outside agencies. He noted that Greater Spokane Incorporated also took a reduction, while some other outside agencies, including the Washington State University extension in Spokane, received the same amounts as last year.

The predicament also raised the question of whether cities should contribute to the health district’s budget. The agency does, after all, have board members representing Spokane, Spokane Valley and the smaller cities in the county.

Spokane City Councilwoman Karen Stratton, who sits on the board along with council members Breean Beggs and Lori Kinnear, said it’s a topic worth exploring.

“The county has that really difficult challenge of funding everything they’re mandated to fund,” Stratton said. But, she added, “the county commissioners, to my knowledge, have never come to the city and asked for help funding the regional health district.”

Commissioner Josh Kerns, who cast the sole vote against the county’s 2018 budget, said it didn’t go far enough in reducing spending. He said the county could save more money if it outsourced payroll and accounts payable services, among other changes.

Commissioner Mary Kuney said that while changes could have been made to the county’s budget up until Monday’s vote, much of it was crafted before she was appointed to the all-Republican commission in late September.

Kuney, a certified public accountant, said she’s now pushing her fellow commissioners to start the budgeting process for 2019 as early as next month.

“We’ve got to be more strategic about it,” she said. “We can’t be so reactionary.”

Knezovich said he’d be encouraged to see a more thorough and transparent budgeting process. While next year’s budget means he won’t have to lay off deputies, he said it still doesn’t include enough money to replace patrol vehicles that have too many miles on them.

“The budget really does not reflect the true cost of running the Sheriff’s Office,” he said. “Basically, all this budget does is Band-Aid us through next year.”

Howard County schools spotlight computer science in Hour of Code event

In school systems across the country, including Howard County, teachers are infusing daily lessons with computer skills to provide students with a foundation of technical knowledge from a young age.

These lessons and skills were highlighted this week as Howard schools participated in the global Hour of Code event, which provides participants of all ages and skill levels with tutorials to learn coding.

The world-wide event is held in more than 180 countries, and provides tutorials in 45 languages. This is the county’s fourth year of participating in the event, which takes place during Computer Science Education Week.

“This week is very important because one of our goals is to increase computer science awareness and increase enrollment in courses that are offered in high school in computer science,” said Julie Alonso-Hughes, the county’s coordinator for the Office of Instructional Technology.

Knox County Health Department restaurant scores include a low score of 76

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Fast food joints are cleaner than swanky restaurants and even cleaner than your home kitchen! Sean Dowling (@seandowlingtv) has more.
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The following restaurants were recently evaluated by the Knox County Health Department. Restaurant scores may change with follow-up visits. For more information on health scores, visit http://apps.health.tn.gov/EHInspections 

Perfect score

Cherry Hill Cafe, 4928 Homberg Drive: 100

J.C. Holdway, 501 Union Ave.: 100

Clubhouse, 132 Hinton: 100

Petro’s, 3001 Knoxville Center Drive: 100

Apple Cake Tea Room, 11312 Station West Blvd.: 100

Mooyah, 7301 Kingston Pike: 100

Arby’s, 6909 Kingston Pike: 100

Starbucks (kiosk), 7600 Kingston Pike: 100

Priority item violation

Turkish Market Deli, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; improper hot holding temperatures: 95

Bida Saigon, 8078 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 94

Waffle House, 411 N. Cedar Bluff Road. Violation: Food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized: 92

Cruze Farm Asbury, 2721 Asbury Road. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures: 91

Little Joe’s Pizza, 13100 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition: 90

Bistro by the Tracks, 215 Brookview Centre Way. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; improper hot holding temperatures; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures: 88

Potrillos Taqueria, 11151 Kingston Pike. Violation: Management unaware of employee health policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 85

Colonel’s Cafe, 4809 Newcomb Ave. Violation: Toxic substances improperly stored and identified; noncompliant with proper handwashing policies and procedures; toxic substances improperly stored and identified: 83

Don Delfis, 120 West End Ave. Violation: Improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected; food-contact surfaces improperly cleansed and sanitized; noncompliant with proper hygienic practices: 80

Sakura King, 11145 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cold holding temperatures; noncompliant with time as a public health control policy; person in charge failed to demonstrate proper supervisory knowledge; noncompliant with proper hand washing policies and procedures; food products improperly separated and protected: 77

Sam and Andy’s West, 11110 Kingston Pike. Violation: Improper cooling time and temperature; improper hot holding temperatures; improper date marking and disposition; food improperly separated and protected from contamination; noncompliant with no bare hand contact with ready-to-eat foods; management noncompliant with employee health policy and procedures: 76

Mecklenburg County’s ransomware recovery will take weeks

By:
Joe Bruno

Updated: Dec 7, 2017 – 11:55 AM

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    MECKLENBURG COUNTY, N.C. – Mecklenburg County was working Thursday on the lengthy process of fixing its computer systems after refusing to pay off a hacker who used ransomware to freeze dozens of local government servers.

    It will take weeks to restore the county’s computer system, local officials said, leaving residents facing delays or disruptions to county services. Deputies were processing jail inmates by hand and building code inspectors switched to paper records after a county employee unleashed the malicious software earlier this week by opening an email attachment.


    58ecc_placeholder-16x9 Mecklenburg County's ransomware recovery will take weeks


    County manager Dena Diorio said late Wednesday that the county will not pay the two bitcoin, which is about $25,000, demanded by the hacker believed to be in Ukraine or Iran. Diorio said it would have taken days to restore the county’s computer system even if officials paid off the person controlling the ransomware, so the decision won’t significantly lengthen the timeframe.

    Officials said instead of paying the hackers they are going to use backup data available prior to the hack to rebuild the applications from scratch.

    “I am confident that our backup data is secure and we have the resources to fix this situation ourselves,” Mecklenburg County Manager Dena Diorio said. “It will take time, but with patience and hard work, all of our systems will be back up and running as soon as possible.”

    Diorio told Channel 9 that someone opened an email they shouldn’t have opened, which helped the hacker infiltrate the system and cause a countywide outage.

    UNC Charlotte professor Bill Chu, who started the cybersecurity program at the school, said even in the most highly-trained workforces, 10 percent of employees will still open dangerous phishing emails. He said it’s because some messages are well disguised and employees open them up.

    Mecklenburg County leaders said the ransomware used during the attack is a new computer virus strain called LockCrypt.

     

    Diorio said there is no evidence that personal, customer or employee information or data has been compromised.

    Charlotte City Councilman Tariq Bokhari, who has created cybersecurity programs, told Channel 9 that county officials didn’t notice the hacker was invading until the city’s IT staff noticed anomalies in network traffic.

    When county officials were made aware of the attack, all countywide Information Technology Services systems were shut down.

    Diorio said the decision to not pay the hackers came after consulting multiple experts in the cybersecurity field and realizing that the time difference for Mecklenburg County officials to do it would not be significantly different.

    “It was going to take almost as long to fix the system after paying the ransom as it does to fix it ourselves,” she said. “And there was no guarantee that paying the criminals was a sure fix.”

    County services impacted by cyber attack

    Diorio said the process to resolve the situation will take days not hours. She said the county is open for business, but it is much slower than usual.

    The shutdown is affecting email, printing and other county applications, including the ability to conduct business at most county offices. For the time being, the county will have to work on paper instead of electronically for some services.

    Bea Cote works directly with domestic violence offenders and offers programs and help.

    “I’m hoping there won’t be any disruption in services, especially in crisis services,” she said.

    The county’s domestic violence hotline that is operated by Safe Alliance was not impacted by the hack.

    In an emergency, victims are asked to call 911.

    Domestic violence or rape crisis hotlines that are open 24/7:

    • Mecklenburg and Lake Norman Domestic Violence Crisis Line: 704-332-2513
    • Mecklenburg and Lake Norman Rape Crisis Line: 704-375-9900

     

    The county’s service line, which a domestic violence victim can call to speak with a counselor, is typically in operation Monday through Friday 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.  That line has been impacted by the hacking.

    “I just really want to encourage victims to reach out anyway, because they will be served,” Cote said.


    County offices and services impacted by the hack:

    HUMAN RESOURCES

    • Applicants cannot apply for vacant positions.

     

    TAX OFFICE

    • Property tax payments cannot be made at the Wilkinson Boulevard location.
    • Tax records and payment information cannot be accessed online or by telephone.
    • All online services, including online payment options, are not available.
    • Payments made by mail will not be posted until tax systems are available.
    • Once tax systems are available, payments received by mail and in person will be posted in the order received resulting in a delay in checks being cashed.
    • Real estate and personal property tax payments can be made in person at Walton Plaza if the taxpayer presents the bill(s) with payment. We do not have the ability to look up bills for the taxpayers to pay.
    • Gross receipts tax payments can be made in person at the Hal Marshall Center if the taxpayer presents the completed tax return(s) with payment. We do not have the ability to look-up information for taxpayers.
    • Payments must be made with a check, money order, or cash.  Credit and debit card payments cannot be accepted. 

     

    REGISTER OF DEEDS

    • All computers used to complete marriage applications, assumed business names research and filing, and record research are not operational. 
    • Many professionals that frequent the ROD for research have prepaid for copies, they will be unable to access those funds for those services as well.

     

    LUESA

    • Code and Storm Water Services cannot review plans or issue new permits.
    • GIS cannot provide addressing and other services.
    • Air Quality services for asbestos reviews, etc. cannot be performed until the system is up.
    • Code enforcement inspection process will be slowed due to paper process.

     

    ASSESSOR’S OFFICE

    • County Assessor’s Office reports AssessPro (The Real Property appraisal system), NCPTS (the personal property appraisal system and the billing and collection system) are down. 
    • Polaris and Tax Bill look up county web links are down

     

    PARK AND RECREATION

    • Online reservations are down.

     

    DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES

    Transportation Message:

    If you have made a transportation reservation through DSS/MTS scheduling, please call Customer Connection at 704-336-4547 to confirm your transportation.  This includes reservations made for bus passes and vendor transportation for trips scheduled through Dec. 11, 2017. 

    CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT

    • Please call your agent to see if services are available.

     

    FINANCE

    • Automated payments, invoicing, procurement, etc. This means no Electronic funds transfers, processing of procurement requests in the system, or other similar transactions at this time.

    When city of Charlotte officials discovered the county’s servers could be compromised, they protected their own data by severing the one line that connected them to the county. 

    FBI officials said the agency has been made aware of the attack and is monitoring the situation.

    [LINK: FBI statistics on internet-related crimes and ransomware]

    Channel 9 learned Wednesday morning that the county has hired two cybersecurity firms to help with the situation.

    The state’s chief information officer and secretary of public safety have also offered full assistance to the county.

    Read more top trending stories on wsoctv.com:

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    County committee plans policy for employee computer use

    The Iroquois County Board IT Committee talked about what’s acceptable usage of the county’s computers and networks.

    Area Wide’s Michael Taber was at yesterday’s meeting, acting as the county’s new account representative. County finance director Anita Speckman said that’s one of the good things about having Area Wide is the county “works with a lot of technicians. There’s a lot of technicians familiar with our system.”

    Yesterday he was part of the computer use policy discussion. The committee approved an updated acceptable use policy. It’s based off of the computer use policy drafted about 10 years ago.

    Read the full story in the print edition or by subscribing online to the e-edition. 

    Community urges action on SLO County Jail, mental health improvements

    A mental health treatment wing in the San Luis Obispo County Jail and an emergency detoxification center are two projects that grabbed the attention of the county Board of Supervisors on Tuesday among a list of recommendations for improving local mental health treatment.

    Supervisors received recommendations from two ad hoc committees tasked with identifying problems at the jail and County Health Agency and suggesting solutions for preventing people from cycling through the criminal justice system.

    “These are things that are urgent — they’re needed right now,” Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley told the board during public comment.

    Following a $5 million settlement the county said it would pay the family of a mentally ill jail inmate who died in custody in January, the county created a Sheriff’s Task Force on Mental Health to bring together stakeholders to prevent similar deaths. Officials have said that the jail is overburdened with inmates with serious chronic medical and mental health problems.

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    In October, the supervisors voted to enroll the county in the Stepping Up Initiative, a national campaign in which local governments pledge to keep people with serious mental health needs out of the criminal justice system. Since then, the Mental Health Task Force was renamed the Stepping Up planning committee, which finalized a three-page list of recommendations to improve local treatment that included options for increasing mental health treatment at the jail, improving training for law enforcement and building detox and urgent care walk-in clinics.

    A second executive committee made up of county officials prioritized those recommendations before the list went before the board Tuesday.

    These are things that are urgent — they’re needed right now.

    Atascadero Mayor Tom O’Malley

    Separately, the county is also awaiting results of a review by a third-party consultant also tasked with providing recommended changes. Results of that review, requested by county administration, are expected within the first two months of 2018, County Counsel Rita Neal told the board.

    A request for proposals to contract outside medical and mental health services at the jail is also expected to be released early next year.

    Of the possible improvements already in motion, the Sheriff’s Office is expecting to open its newly constructed medical facility building at the jail in May 2018, Sheriff Ian Parkinson told the board Tuesday. The facility’s former building can be repurposed to provide an on-site mental health treatment and housing area.

    “That process is moving forward in every which way we can,” Parkinson said.

    Tuesday’s hearing was attended by the county’s seven police chiefs, officials from the jail and County Health, members of the county Grand Jury and several residents who say their families have been affected by a local lack of services.

    Los Osos resident Linda Martin, who said her daughter injured herself after being denied medication and placed in a County Jail safety cell in 2016, said treatment of inmates at the jail now is a “crisis.”

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    “Competent psychiatrists need to be put in place right now,” Martin said.

    That urgency was echoed by San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins, who urged the board to shore up funding for solutions that could be enacted quickly, such as hiring more staff at the jail.

    “While (requests for proposals) are prepared, people are going to continue to die,” Jenkins said.

    While (requests for proposals) are prepared, people are going to continue to die.

    San Luis Obispo attorney Stew Jenkins

    Aurora William, executive director of ECHO shelter in Atascadero, said the current system for people struggling with mental illness and substance abuse has “left us with a lot of families that are fragmented.” William told the board that a local detoxification facility is long overdue.

    The board was set to simply receive and file the committee’s recommendations, but each supervisor added additional direction to staff about what they want to know next time the issue comes before the board, likely early next year.

    Supervisor Bruce Gibson said that he wanted staff to select the top three to five recommendations or projects that make the most strategic sense to start first and come back with cost and time estimates.

    Gibson also suggested shifting the leadership of the overall effort to the county’s administrative office, rather than the Sheriff’s Office, which he said would be better at engaging non-government stakeholders such as the faith and business communities. No other official backed Gibson’s recommendation.

    Supervisor Adam Hill asked for staff to provide an update on the proposed 91-bed psychiatric hospital in Templeton approved by the county in March 2016. Behavioral Health Director Anne Robin said the county has not received an update from the developer on the private hospital in some time, but the most recent estimates have the facility completed in 2021, Robin said. An update on the project will come back before the board early next year.

    While supervisors Debbie Arnold and Lynn Compton said they wanted the Sheriff’s Office to continue moving forward with prioritizing the various improvements, Compton added that she wanted more information on mental health urgent care centers and identifying potential partners for such a facility.

    Lastly, Supervisor John Peschong said he wanted staff to consult with the county’s lobbyist to see if there are legislative avenues to increase the number of beds in the county’s psychiatric facility, which is federally licensed for 16 beds.

    Lawmakers hear about Washington County Health Department’s syringe program – Herald

    Maryland Del. Neil Parrott, chairman of the Washington County delegation, right, takes notes on Tuesday while listening to information about the county health department’s syringe-services program. Also pictured, from left, are County Health Officer Earl Stoner, Behavioral Health Services Director Vicki Sterling, Deputy Health Officer Dr. Diana Gaviria, and Washington County Sheriff Doug Mullendore.

    Mecklenburg County offices hit by county-wide computer system outage

    Mecklenburg County is experiencing a county-wide computer system outage, impacting business at most county offices.

    “This will affect email, printing and other county applications, including the ability to conduct business at most county offices,” according to a release.

    People planning on going to a county office are advised to contact the office beforehand.

    All county-wide ITS systems will be shut down until further notice, the county announced. The outage if affecting email, printing and other services at county offices.

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    County courts announced they were affected by the outage, as the disruption interfered with jury service.

    Each department is activating plans to continue operating during the outage, the county said. There is no indication of when the issue will be resolved.

    LaVendrick Smith: 704-358-5101; @LaVendrickS

    UPDATE: Bellin Health to acquire Dickinson County Healthcare System

    IRON MOUNTAIN, Mich. (WLUC) – UPDATE: Dec. 4 at 2:33 p.m.
    Bellin Health and the Dickinson County Healthcare System (DCHS) have released further details regarding the Letter of Intent of DCHS possibly being acquired by Bellin.

    According to the release, “By joining forces with Bellin, DCHS will be able to fund improvements and expand its services that will enhance its ability to meet the needs of patients, while maintaining its strong local culture. The two entities have a long history of collaboration and both organizations are looking forward to full integration for the benefit of the community.”

    “In today’s highly challenging and highly regulated health care environment, that requires access to capital and other resources including highly trained medical personnel and technology, a small system like ours can benefit from the human and financial resources of a larger partner, especially a proven innovator like Bellin,” said explained John Schon, Administrator and CEO of DCHS.

    Bellin Health President and CEO, George Kerwin, said, “We value our relationship with Dickinson County Healthcare System and the people living in the region. We have been a part of this community, providing health care services and working collaboratively with DCHS, for some 35 years, starting with cardiology services.”

    The release stated in past three years alone, Bellin has served more than 13,000 area residents, which is nearly half of Dickinson County’s population.

    It is anticipated that a purchase agreement will be worked out during the coming months and finalized during the second quarter of 2018. The agreement will have to be approved by both the Bellin and DCHS Boards and will also go to the Dickinson County Board of Commissioners for approval.

    To read the release in it’s entirety, visit the Related Documents section of this article.

    ——————–
    UPDATE: Dec. 4 at 1:50 p.m.
    Dickinson County Healthcare System has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Bellin Health. The new entity will be called Bellin-DCHS.

    Details of the Bellin-DCHS letter of intent have not been announced but Bellin says they will offer current employees of DCHS employment with Bellin.

    The formal purchase agreement will be worked out in the next couple of months, with its finalization in summer of 2018.

    The agreement will be approved by Bellin and DCHS, along with the Dickinson County board of commissioners.

    There will be more information available on your TV6 Early News on Monday.

    ——————–
    Dickinson County Healthcare System has signed a letter of intent to be acquired by Bellin Health, according to a Monday morning news release.

    More information will be released at a news conference scheduled for 10:00 a.m. central time Monday at DCHS.

    Bellin, which is based in Green Bay, currently has a clinic in Iron Mountain.

    Before this significant development, DCHS and Bellin already had a partnership. In Sept. 2016, Bellin and DCHS entered into a collaborative clinical relationship.

    According to its website, Dickinson County Healthcare System has been operating for 65 years. This fall, DCHS received another A rating on the Leapfrog Hospital Safety Grade scale.

    TV6’s Nicole Buchmann will be at Monday’s news conference and will have a full report on your TV6 Early News. Check this story for updates.

    Health care administrator seeks Floyd County office

    NEW ALBANY — LaMicra Martin has formally announced her candidacy for Floyd County Commissioner, District 1, in the 2018 Democratic Primary Election, a Floyd County Democratic Party news release stated. As a resident of Floyd County, Martin has observed that the community is ready for a change and a fresh voice.

    “I chose to seek public office because it is time for our community leaders to cultivate better relationships both at the state and county levels; I believe our elected officials ought to be transparent, engaged in open communication, and ought to be accessible to all residents,” she stated in the release. “I believe our leaders have the responsibility to empower the community to thrive both socially and economically. When we all work together, a lot more can be accomplished. It is time for a fresh voice and vision.”

    Martin’s campaign kickoff and fundraiser is on Monday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m. at TheatreWorks of SoIN, 203 E. Main St., New Albany. This event is open to the public. Individuals can RSVP at info@electlmartin.com.

    Martin is a graduate of Jeffersonville High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration/Health Information Systems and a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has been in health care since 1998 and continues to work in the health care sector to help maintain a patient focus on improving patient experience, patient safety, and quality care. Martin has extended herself to work with the public to give hope to everyone that she encounters, whether it is a kind word or helping hand. She currently serves as treasurer for the Gilt Edge Baptist Church, Inc., Community Development Corp. and is a board member for Habitat of Humanity of Clark/Floyd.

    Martin came from a single-parent home where her mother taught her to work hard and strive for greatness. She has held a successful career in health administration for 19 years and is married to husband Judah Martin for nine years and is the mother of five children — four sons and one daughter.

    Martin is looking forward to getting out on the campaign trail and looks forward to meeting residents of Floyd County. You can follow her Facebook page: electlmartin.

    Health care administrator seeks Floyd County office

    NEW ALBANY — LaMicra Martin has formally announced her candidacy for Floyd County Commissioner, District 1, in the 2018 Democratic Primary Election, a Floyd County Democratic Party news release stated. As a resident of Floyd County, Martin has observed that the community is ready for a change and a fresh voice.

    “I chose to seek public office because it is time for our community leaders to cultivate better relationships both at the state and county levels; I believe our elected officials ought to be transparent, engaged in open communication, and ought to be accessible to all residents,” she stated in the release. “I believe our leaders have the responsibility to empower the community to thrive both socially and economically. When we all work together, a lot more can be accomplished. It is time for a fresh voice and vision.”

    Martin’s campaign kickoff and fundraiser is on Monday, Dec. 11, at 5 p.m. at TheatreWorks of SoIN, 203 E. Main St., New Albany. This event is open to the public. Individuals can RSVP at info@electlmartin.com.

    Martin is a graduate of Jeffersonville High School and holds a bachelor’s degree in Health Administration/Health Information Systems and a master’s degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix. She has been in health care since 1998 and continues to work in the health care sector to help maintain a patient focus on improving patient experience, patient safety, and quality care. Martin has extended herself to work with the public to give hope to everyone that she encounters, whether it is a kind word or helping hand. She currently serves as treasurer for the Gilt Edge Baptist Church, Inc., Community Development Corp. and is a board member for Habitat of Humanity of Clark/Floyd.

    Martin came from a single-parent home where her mother taught her to work hard and strive for greatness. She has held a successful career in health administration for 19 years and is married to husband Judah Martin for nine years and is the mother of five children — four sons and one daughter.

    Martin is looking forward to getting out on the campaign trail and looks forward to meeting residents of Floyd County. You can follow her Facebook page: electlmartin.

    Man Who Took Over County Computers, Altered Inmate’s Release …

    ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – A 27-year-old man who was able to take over the Washtenaw County computer system with malware and other tricks has pleaded guilty in federal court.

    Prosecutors say Konrads Voits executed a classic phishing scheme, using both email and phone calls to county employees to gain access and control of the computer network. Upon gaining access, Voits took the information of many former and present county employees — while also altering jail records, in an attempt to free one inmate early. Jail employees noticed the edit and prevented any early release.

    Washtenaw County, which employs more than 1,600 workers, spent more than $230,000 to fix the breach.

    Voits, who lives in Ypsilanti Township, pleaded guilty Friday to damaging a protected computer, a federal crime. He could face seven years or more in prison, plus a $250,000 fine, when sentenched on April 5. He’s in jail without bond.

    “Computer hackers should realize that unlawfully entering another’s computer will result in a felony conviction and a prison sentence,” Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement.

    The FBI first encountered Voits in 2015 when he reported a false bomb threat.

    © Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Man Who Took Over County Computers, Altered Inmate’s Release Date Pleads Guilty

    ANN ARBOR (WWJ/AP) – A 27-year-old man who was able to take over the Washtenaw County computer system with malware and other tricks has pleaded guilty in federal court.

    Prosecutors say Konrads Voits executed a classic phishing scheme, using both email and phone calls to county employees to gain access and control of the computer network. Upon gaining access, Voits took the information of many former and present county employees — while also altering jail records, in an attempt to free one inmate early. Jail employees noticed the edit and prevented any early release.

    Washtenaw County, which employs more than 1,600 workers, spent more than $230,000 to fix the breach.

    Voits, who lives in Ypsilanti Township, pleaded guilty Friday to damaging a protected computer, a federal crime. He could face seven years or more in prison, plus a $250,000 fine, when sentenched on April 5. He’s in jail without bond.

    “Computer hackers should realize that unlawfully entering another’s computer will result in a felony conviction and a prison sentence,” Acting United States Attorney Daniel Lemisch said in a statement.

    The FBI first encountered Voits in 2015 when he reported a false bomb threat.

    © Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

    Washington County completes health center real estate transaction – Observer

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    Email notifications are only sent once a day, and only if there are new matching items.

    Evans: ‘Serious concerns’ about county mental health chief

    Detroit — Wayne County Executive Warren Evans wants the board of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority to halt the hiring of its new director.

    In a letter to the chairman of the Mental Health Authority sent Thursday, Evans voiced “serious concerns” about Joy Calloway leading the county’s Mental Health Authority because of questions about an ongoing investigation into overbilling by her current employer. He asked the board to “cease all further efforts to hire Ms. Calloway and reopen the candidate search for a new director.”

    Calloway has been CEO of New Center Community Mental Health Services since 2013, and in the letter to chairman Herbert Smitherman Jr., Evans said that organization has significantly overbilled the county and that an audit is still in process. 

    “To hire Ms. Calloway as the Director of DWMHA under these circumstances is careless, at best,” Evans wrote. “In addition to the billing concerns, it could potentially undermine her credibility and that of the DWMHA from the start of her tenure.”

    Evans initially sent letters to the health authority on Nov. 15, requesting that the board postpone its vote on a new CEO until his questions about the process were answered. He sent another letter Nov. 22 saying there “is an inherent conflict of interest in hiring (Calloway) who previously led New Center while this investigation remains open.” 

    A state health department audit using a 5 percent sampling of New Center’s billing found $95,000 in overbilling; the audit suggested overbilling could be as much as $1.9 million, according to documents obtained by The Detroit News.

    Calloway was set to replace CEO Tom Watkins, who resigned after three years in the position. Chairman Smitherman wrote back to Evans on Monday saying that a national candidate search started in May yielded more than 100 candidates; he said they interviewed the top five.

    The board had initially selected another candidate who declined to move forward in the process. The board then picked Calloway, who was described by one of the panelists as having “a unique Detroit-based experience with a passion and motivation to lead,” according to Smitherman’s letter.

    Evans wrote back that the medical health authority, an independent agency, has an obligation to taxpayers and the 80,000 residents it serves to recoup the money overbilled by New Center. 

    “Apparently, the DWMHA agreed to accept only $95,000 to settle the entire overbilling issue,” Thursday’s letter said.

    As of Friday afternoon, the executive’s office had not received a response from the medical authority board. 

    srahal@detroitnews.com

    Twitter: @SarahRahal_

     

    Orange County restaurants shut down by health inspectors (Nov. 24-Dec. 1)

    Health permits are suspended for major violations. Restaurants must remain closed until inspectors determine problems have been fixed.

    • 7-Eleven, 25361 Alicia Parkway, Laguna Hills; rodent infestation; closed Dec. 1.
    • Hanshaw Liquor, 3022 E. Chapman Ave., Orange; rodent infestation; closed Nov. 30.
    • Quan Hy, 9727 Bolsa Ave., Westminster; rodent infestation; closed Nov. 30, reopened Dec. 1.
    • Outpost Kitchen, 1792 Monrovia Ave., Costa Mesa; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 30, reopened Dec. 1.
    • Crawfish Cave, 150 S. Harbor Blvd., Fullerton; rodent infestation; closed Nov. 29.
    • Dough Exchange at Fourth Street Market, 220 E. 4th St., Santa Ana; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 29.
    • Snack bar at Costa Mesa Country Club, 1701 Golf Course Drive, Costa Mesa; insufficient hot water; closed Nov. 29, reopened Nov. 30.
    • Hoa An Quan Restaurant, 14291 Euclid St., Garden Grove; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 29, reopened Nov. 30.
    • Velvet Lounge, 416 W. 4th St., Santa Ana; operating without a valid health permit; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 28.
    • Gengis Khan at Brea Mall, 2167 Brea Mall, Brea; operating without a valid health permit; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 28.
    • Llego El Mexicano Panaderia, 3808 W. Commonwealth Ave., Fullerton; operating without a valid health permit; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 28.
    • Kimmie’s Coffee Cup, 2099 E. Orangethorpe Ave., Placentia; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 30.
    • Happy Buffet, 2158 S. Bristol St., Santa Ana; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 29.
    • Las Brisas, 719 E. 1st St., Santa Ana; sewage overflow; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 29.
    • Mario’s, 15964 Springdale St., Huntington Beach; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 29.
    • L.A. Biryani, 1631 E. 17th St., Santa Ana; operating without a valid health permit; closed Nov. 28.
    • Yo! Sushi, 2639 W. Edinger Ave., Santa Ana; cockroach infestation; closed Nov. 28, reopened Nov. 29.
    • Omi Fruiti, 1213 E. Yorba Linda Blvd., Placentia; insufficient hot water; closed Nov. 27, reopened Nov. 27.
    • Surfside Pizza, 216 Avenida Vaquero, San Clemente; rodent infestation; closed Nov. 27, reopened Nov. 29.
    • Moctezuma Restaurant, 809 N. Fairview St., Santa Ana; rodent infestation; closed Nov. 27, reopened Nov. 28.
    • Pho the Bowl, 27931 La Paz Road, Laguna Niguel; insufficient hot water; closed Nov. 27, reopened Nov. 27.

    This list is published online every Friday with closures from the previous seven days and is not usually updated. See the OC Health Care Agency’s database for an updated list of closures and reopenings.

    Warren Evans calls for halt to hiring of new county mental health CEO

    • Warren Evans wants Medicaid audit
    • CEO candidate Joy Calloway’s New Center Community Services was found to overbill DWMHA by an estimated $2 million
    • Calloway was second choice after Willie Brooks dropped out

     Warren Evans calls for halt to hiring of new county mental health CEO

     Warren Evans calls for halt to hiring of new county mental health CEOWayne County Executive Warren Evans wrote a strongly worded letter Thursday to the chairman of the Detroit Wayne Mental Health Authority to ask the board to reopen its CEO search process after an audit found what could amount to up to $2 million in Medicaid overcharging by New Center Community Services, which is headed by the board’s choice for its top job.

    DWMHA Chairman Herbert Smitherman, M.D., has selected Joy Calloway, New Center’s CEO, to replace the departed Tom Watkins as CEO. Smitherman and authority representatives are negotiating a contract with Calloway.

    Evans wrote his first letter protesting the selection on Nov. 15, the same day the authority’s board announced Calloway’s selection. On Monday, Smitherman wrote Evans that the board has no intention of stopping the process to hire Calloway. He said the authority has decided to settle the overbilling issue by charging New Center $95,000, the amount of overbilling found in an audit of a 5 percent sample of paid bills.

    “DWMHA has an obligation to both taxpayers and the residents it services to recoup the full amount overbilled by New Center,” Evans wrote to Smitherman on Nov. 30. “The state audit completed of New Center’s billing, using a 5 percent sampling, found $95,000 in overbillings. Extrapolating this amount to the unaudited claims suggests potential overbill in the area of $1.9 million.”

    Brooke Blackwell, a DWMHA spokesman, told Crain’s on Thursday that the audit found no fraud or wrongdoing by Calloway. She said the authority plans to continue to negotiate a contract with Calloway and seek improvements in New Center’s billing practices and training.

    Blackwell said Friday that the state Department of Health and Human Services’ office of inspector general instructed DWMHA in a Nov. 9 email to only collect $95,000 from New Center for the overbilling. She said the board also has received Evans’ Nov. 30 letter and members are reviewing it.

    Contacted by Crain’s on Friday, Calloway said she is still a candidate for CEO with DWMHA. She had no other comment on the dispute between Evans and Smitherman or the New Center audit. She referred questions back to Smitherman.

    Angela Minicuci, chief spokeswoman for MDHHS, said the state inspector general’s office continues to have concerns about the DWMHA audit and improper New Center billing.

    “The case is still open and we can’t say much more” about the investigation, Minicuci said. “(The OIG) wants DWMHA to recover the Medicaid funds, make sure (New Center) has a corrective action plan and train New Center staff.”

    Minicuci confirmed the state OIG only is asking DWMHA to recoup $95,000 from New Center. She said DWMHA also has been instructed to conduct another audit of New Center in six months to determine if billing practices have improved.

    But Evans said in his letter that DWMHA should stop “all further efforts to hire Ms. Calloway” and reopen the search process.

    “To hire Ms. Calloway as the director of DWMHA under these circumstances is careless, at best,” Evans said. “In addition to the billing concerns, it could potentially undermine her credibility and that of the DWMHA from the start of her tenure.”

    Evans also requested that the board appropriately resolve the overbilling by New Center.

    “While I have no trouble accepting that a 5 percent sampling is an adequate representative sample for an audit, accepting this 5 percent in full satisfaction of the overbilling claim is unacceptable,” he said. “Although you advised me that accepting 5 percent to resolve the matter is standard policy, I find it unconscionable that nearly $1.9 million in funding intended to treat mental illness is so cavalierly dismissed.”

    In late October, Willie Brooks turned down a job offer from Smitherman to lead the DWMHA after he discovered Smitherman had changed the terms of the proposed contract. Smitherman told Crain’s that the two disagreed on the final terms, and Brooks wanted to go back to his job with Oakland County Community Mental Health Authority.

    In August, Watkins stepped down as CEO of DWMHA after several well-publicized disputes with a majority of the board, led by Smitherman. Watkins was offered a new contract, but he declined and is now a consultant with TDW and Associates.