EXCLUSIVE: Workers Resign, Patients Discharged as Ruston Hospital's Paychecks Bounce

EXCLUSIVE: Workers Resign, Patients Discharged as Ruston Hospital's Paychecks Bounce

Dozens of employees claim they're owed money from a Ruston hospital, money they're not getting.

RUSTON -- Half a dozen employees of Meridian Psychiatric Hospital in Ruston came to work Monday morning, expecting their paychecks.

They claim for months, many of their paychecks have been bouncing.

"It started way back in March," hospital employee Trunesia Smith said. "When I started in March, he owed me a check for March and I didn't get it until June and the check that I got in June was the one that bounced at my bank."

"Last pay period, they didn't pay me. This pay period, they didn't pay me," hospital employee Nikki Smith said. "He offered me cash last pay period. $200 and my check was $800 and some."

Some employees said they're behind on their rent.

Others said their lights have been turned off because of their paychecks being bounced.

Some employees claim they're owed money in the quadruple digits.

"Several thousand dollars," said Meridian Psychiatric Hospital Assistant Director of Nursing, Carla West.

Trunesia asked the Lincoln Parish Sheriff's Office to escort her to the hospital.

She said she feared hospital retaliation.

"They said if Channel 10, if we brought the news people here, that they would call and press charges against us," Trunesia claimed.

No charges were pressed when she arrived, though.

There were also no checks when the employees first arrived.

The hospital said all administrators had left.

A car which employees claimed belongs to the top administrator drove around and sped off before KTVE/KARD could talk to him.

The hospital's vice president did show up later.

"That's incorrect," Meridian Psychiatric Hospital Vice President, Russ Aideyen, said in response to these allegations. "I'm about to see what is going on now."

But Trunesia has a Notice of Action from her bank showing a May 30th check from Meridian to be insufficient.

The hospital later handed checks to the employees, but some employees said when they went to cash them, they received the same results.

"He done wrote everybody hot checks," hosptial employee Amanda Mitchell said.

"The bank said they can't negotiate it, but they cannot cash the checks from Meridian Hospital today," Trunesia said.

KTVE/KARD followed the employees back to the hospital, but no administrators came out, which led to some employees resigning then and there.

"The check is non-negotiable, so I resign from my position as a medical tech here," Mitchell said.

By 2:00 p.m., nurses were talking of releasing patients.

"You guys, I'm going to be bringing a patient out here to be discharged. Y'all please be respectful," one nurse told the crowd of gathered employees outside the hospital.

Still, there were no answers about paychecks from the hospital, answers and money these employees said they're still waiting on.

KTVE/KARD contacted the Louisiana Department of Health and Hospitals and they would not say whether they're investigating Meridian.

The Louisiana Legislative Auditor's Office said Meridian doesn't answer to them.

We will keep you updated once we receive more information.

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