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Finger-pointing erupts in transportation dispute |

Finger-pointing erupts in transportation dispute

| Saturday, November 17, 2001 12:00 a.m

Fayette County officials and a former transportation contractor traded allegations of mismanagement Friday as their clients continued to experience delays in getting to and from their life-sustaining dialysis appointments.

According to Fayette County Commissioner Sean Cavanagh, Fayette Area Coordinated Transportation’s solicitor, Sheryl Heid, and director Michelle Shumar made allegations that former contractor Tri-Conn Alternative Services Inc. had submitted double-billings for services.

“Sheryl Heid seemed 100 percent confident that (Tri-Conn) didn’t have a leg to stand on,” Cavanagh said.

But Robert M. Topper, administrative director of Tri-Conn, said the allegations were simply hogwash.

“We couldn’t have double-billed them because we don’t bill them. We submit a sheet of what services we provided, and they pay us.

“They double-paid us for three months, and they took that back. We’ve tried to (check their math) by asking for a sheet detailing what they did to pay us, but they never sent that,” said Topper.

“It gets personal when they make allegations of impropriety like that,” he added.

Topper also stated that his firm had laid off 30 employees because of the county’s lack of prompt payment.

Since Tri-Conn dropped service, last week several patients who use a Mt. Pleasant dialysis clinic have experienced delays getting to and from their therapies.

Sharon Holmes, clinic manager for Fresenius Medical Care, said none of her 15 patients who depend on FACT have had to go to the hospital yet because of delays.

“But that’s because we’ve been moving heaven and earth to work with (FACT),”she said.

Patients continued to call the Tribune-Review yesterday to report delays and other problems with FACT service.

Topper said Tri-Conn is still owed nearly $45,000 by the county.

Topper believes Shumar simply is unsure of what is going on.

He said the company didn’t experience problems until the departure of a former FACT employee.

“I just think there’s people in charge who aren’t sure what they’re in charge of,” he said. “Let them show me where we double-billed them in black and white.”

Shumar could not be reached for comment.

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