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“Scruggs Cartel” paid for...

“Scruggs Cartel” paid for whistleblower movie “Do No Harm” hospital president says

By: Magnolia Tribune - July 1, 2009

“Scruggs Cartel” paid for whistleblower movie “Do No Harm” hospital president says

The infamous Phoebe factoids controversy has re-surfaced–this time in a film.

A documentary by a Chicago production company focuses on how big not-for-profit hospitals, including Phoebe, deal with uninsured and under-insured patients. Phoebe administrators say it’s not factual.

The film is called “Do No Harm”. “The whole thing started off with those faxes,” said Albany surgeon Dr. John Bagnato.

It’s a documentary with a series of faxes called the Phoebe Factoids at the center. “They could have been ignored or they could have taken them as legitimate criticism,” said Bagnato, “instead they went on an illegal witch hunt and that’s where we are today.”

In the film you see some of the events following that faxed criticism of Phoebe’s administrators and financial practices. Dr. John Bagnato and his then office manager Charles Rehberg were booked into the Dougherty County Jail and indicted after it was revealed they were the anonymous faces behind those Factoids.

“I was sort of fascinated by their story because of who they were,” said Rebecca Schanberg. Film director Rebecca Schanberg describes the film as a story about two whistleblowers taking on hospital corruption and the plight of the uninsured.

“I think what we’d like to do is bring to light the fact that hospitals in general, although they can take care of people and be really great, their financial practices need to come in line with their medical practices,” said Schanberg.

One thing is certain–“Do No Harm” will be seen all over the United States. “It’s being picked up by those who would like to create some rallying cry for health reform based upon one inaccurate fax,” said Wernick.

“The negative publicity that has occurred over there has more to do with what they did and less to do with what we did,” said Bagnato.

Dr. Bagnato thinks this will re-ignite a national debate about the cost of healthcare. A screening will take place in Atlanta next month. The filmmaker says they’re working on one here in Albany also.

Joel Wernick claims the production was paid for by a “Scruggs Cartel” to portray the hospital poorly. Richard Scruggs is an attorney who sued Phoebe. He’s now in prison for trying to bribe a judge.

WALB Georgia

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This article was produced by Y'all Politics staff.