In the wake of public outcry over aggressive billing practices at the UVA Medical Center, the Health System has established a 16-person advisory council made up of Charlottesville community leaders to help reform policies alongside University personnel. Council members include local doctors, businesspeople, students, educators, and clergymen.
The formation of the council arrives in the wake of widespread criticism of the University Health System’s practice of suing thousands of patients with unpaid medical bills per year. In some cases, UVA Health seized patients’ paychecks and put liens on their homes, going far beyond the enforcement measures of peer institutions. University President James Ryan announced in September that his administration was “working on the issue” with a team of Health System employees dedicated to revising inappropriate collection practices, including former CEO Pamela Sutton-Wallace.
Chris Ghaemmaghami, MD, who succeeded Sutton-Wallace as chief of the UVA Medical Center in September, expressed faith in the new council’s mission.
“The changes we announced in September are a first step, and we look forward to hearing feedback and input from the Advisory Council on additional ways we can better serve our patients as well as improve fairness and transparency,” Ghaemmaghami said.
According to the University Health System, the council members are:
- Dr. Lehman Bates, Pastor of Ebenezer Baptist Church in Charlottesville
- Sylvana Fernandez-Ellauri, UVA Health Language Services Spanish Interpreter
- Don Gathers, Public Housing Association of Residents – Charlottesville
- Tyler D. Gaedecke, UVA School of Nursing student
- Charlene Green, Director, City of Charlottesville Human Rights Commission
- Landon Hobbs, UVA School of Medicine student
- Wanda Hoerman, Assistant Director, Albemarle County Social Services
- Denise Johnson, Director of Equity & Inclusion, Charlottesville City Schools
- Joy Johnson, Chair of the Board, Public Housing Association of Residents – Charlottesville
- Charles Lewis, UVA Health Telemedicine team member
- Michaela Lieberman, Health Justice Legal Fellow for Legal Aid Justice Center
- Mo Nadkarni, MD, UVA Health Internal Medicine
- Karl Quist, Charlottesville for Reasonable Health Insurance
- Lorie Strother, SWaM Contract Administrator for UVA Office of Procurement and Supplier Diversity Services
- Paula Tomko, CEO, Central Virginia Health Services, Inc.
- Sharon Veith, MSN, RN, Westhaven Community Nurse and UVA School of Nursing
Tomko, who serves as CEO of Central Virginia Health Services Inc., explained her membership on the new council.
“I am interested in helping with this group as a representative for an organization with a significant patient population that is financially challenged to afford healthcare,” said Tomko. “We welcome the opportunity to shape policy to help balance care and affordability so that our patients at Central Virginia Health Services can access the specialty care they need.”