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EXCLUSIVE: Nursing home employees say they’re stuck paying thousands in unpaid medical bills

WINDHAM -- Dozens of Connecticut nursing home employees said they are stuck with tens of thousands of dollars in unpaid medical bills.

"I think most of us were in shock," said one employee of Douglas Manor in Windham, who did not want FOX61 to reveal her identity. "I lost around $13,500, and it was for my surgery and to go to the OB-GYN and to the dentist," she said.

That Douglas Manor employee said her problems started last year, when some of her insurance claims went unpaid, including an $8,000 surgery bill.

"My doctor said that it was paid but not posted, so they had been issued a bad check," she said.

Several employees told FOX61 that their insurance was cut off in January 2017, but they didn't find out until May 2017, after many had unknowingly gone to the doctor without insurance, or were still paying into their healthcare plans.

Affinity Healthcare - which owns Douglas Manor, as well as Blair Manor in Enfield and Ellis Manor in Hartford - was placed under state control. A receivership report compiled by the Commissioner of Social Service's Office in June uncovered serious issues, including records in disarray, payroll not being funded and facilities in dire need of repair.

"There was mold in a couple of the residents' rooms," said the employee.

Serious quality of care issues addressed in the receivership report also prompted a report by Social Services to the Health Department. In the receivership report, employee health insurance was called "an urgent priority," with one plan administrator estimating the outstanding unpaid claims total $500,000.

Employees also reported claims going unpaid or inconsistently paid for the last two years.

"There were rumors going around that the medical bills weren't being paid, so I myself went ahead and called these doctors to find out if they were being paid and I was told they weren't," said the Douglas Manor employee.

The employee estimates it will take her 10 years to pay off all her bills. Court documents from the receivership list dozens of claims from employees at all three facilities, for medical bills left unpaid, as well as unused sick and vacation time. The employee said she repeatedly went to management about the problem, but was told over and over they'd check into it, which she said they never did.

"It really is a good facility," said the employee. "I think it was just owned by the wrong people."

That employee tells FOX61 that she and her co-workers have since received healthcare again, but said they are still responsible for paying off all the bills they received during their insurance lapse.

The state is about to begin the bidding process to sell off Douglas Manor. On Monday, Enfield's town manager announced the closing of Blair Manor.

Administrators at Douglas Manor never returned calls to FOX61 for comment.