Former staff, clients of Deaconess Home Health struggling

MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- It has been about a week since Deaconess Home Health was shut down due to fraud allegations, but those who relied on Deaconess for income or services still have no answers. Deaconess staff members and clients are scrambling to make other arrangements.

Shawn Golla is looking for a solution after Deaconess Home Health was shut down by the state, and caregivers were not paid for work they performed in the two weeks prior to the shutdown.

Golla's wife, Tammi was paid by Deaconess to take care of him after he was paralyzed in an attack while working as a security guard.

"I don't like this. I don't like being in this chair. I'd rather be out working. I'd rather be taking care of people rather than people taking care of me," Golla said.

The couple is now looking for another agency, after the state suspended payments to Deaconess on April 19th, after getting what it calls "credible allegations of fraud" within the business.

Employees and clients didn't find out until last Tuesday, when they showed up on payday and the doors were locked, with security guards handing out statements to irate workers.

Many, like the Gollas, are struggling.

"There's no money. All the bills that are on automatic pay were already sent out, and now they're bouncing," Golla said.

The closure of Deaconess has sent workers and clients scrambling to find other agencies, like Independence First.

"In our case, we've had about 600 phone calls in the last week," Independence First President Lee Schulz said.

Schulz says those connected to Deaconess need to find out which organization was paying Deaconess to provide their care.

"Everybody that's affected by Deaconess should have some organization that's been paying for it. So if it isn't iCare or Milwaukee County, it would be the state of Wisconsin, ForwardHealth," Schulz said.

iCare officials say agencies are speeding up the process of adding new clients. Golla hasn't found a new provider and is left to ponder the worst-case scenario.

"I'm gonna physically decrease and become more of a hindrance on the state and they're gonna put me in the hospital and the state's gonna pay even more to take care of me," Golla said.

The state has referred questions about the investigation to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Milwaukee, but a spokeswoman there says they can neither confirm nor deny there's an investigation into Deaconess.

Deaconess now allows callers to leave a voicemail message, but neither they nor the state immediately returned FOX6's calls.

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