Back in March, Fox9 reporter Trish Van Pilsum used the weak but determined voice of a patient on a ventilator and interviews with six former employees to paint a damning portrait of a home health care company called Ometta Vent Care Services. The company was already under scrutiny by several state agencies because of questionable billing and other problems. On Wednesday, Attorney General Lori Swanson filed a three-part criminal complaint against company owner Barbara Currin of Brooklyn Park, my colleague Mike Kaszuba reported.The company employed ten of Currin's family members and billed Medical Assistance for $2.7 million for 15,427 hours of registered nursing services, even though only about 814 hours were provided, the attorney general charged.
It's always hard for reporters to admit being scooped, especially when we had no reason to miss the story. Whistleblower was also alerted early this year about problems with Ometta Vent Care, but the tip I recall involved workers not getting paid - an aspect of the story, but not the heart of it. Other stories took precedence for me, but I'm glad that those tipsters found another news organization willing to follow up.