Key Hospice Officials Resign After Audit Report

Two high-level San Diego Hospice employees have resigned after reports of a federal Medicare audit that will affect local end-of-life-care organizations.

The announcement made Tuesday involves two chief officers at San Diego Hospice who each had worked with the organization for more than a decade.

Chief Medical Director, Dr. Steven Oppenheim has resigned to “pursue other interests” according to a news release. His last day will be December 8.

The same release announced that Chief Financial Officer, Kathy Jones has left the organization “effective immediately.”

The timing of the announcement comes on the same day the San Diego Union-Tribune reported the organization may need to cut staff and refund millions to Medicare.

However, the organization would not say if the resignations were because of future challenges/issues with the Medicare audit.

San Diego Hospice CEO Kathleen Pacurar told NBC 7 San Diego no direct care to end-of-life patients will be compromised. All of those employees should stay on she said.

However, the Perinatal Hospice Program and HIV/AIDS Case Management Program will be cut.

Pacurar said it may have to return money in Medicare because it hasn't been strict enough in making sure that it only accepts patients who are likely to die within six months.

She says that timeline, however, is tricky.

"That six months is a tough thing. We look at each patient individually. We have patients that come on service that are with us two days and we have patients that sometimes exceed that 6 month time period," Pacurar said.

Friday through Monday, San Diego Hospice didn't accept new patients, because of the potential budget constraints.

Will this continue?

A hospice employee told NBC 7 San Diego that employees have been asked to come in next weekend.

Check back for updates to this developing story

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