Healthcare News Roundup—Tenet may sell subsidiary; Employees at Mayo Clinic hospital go on one-day strike

Hospital lobby
A former Florida health administrator has been sentenced for her role in a $1 billion fraud scheme. (Getty/monkeybusinessimages)

Former Florida health administrator sentenced to 57 months in prison in fraud case 

A former employee at Florida's Agency for Health Care Administration was sentenced to more than four years in prison for her role in a $1 billion Miami fraud case, the Department of Justice announced. Federal authorities said that Bertha Blanco traded AHCA reports for cash bribes from Medicare and Medicaid providers coordinated by Philip Esformes, CEO of a Miami chain of skilled nursing facilities and assisted-living facilities, and his associates. Blanco was sentenced to serve 57 months in prison and was ordered to pay $441,000 in restitution, according to DOJ. (Department of Justice

SEIU coordinates first-ever strike at Mayo Clinic 

Employees at Mayo Clinic's hospital in Albert Lea, Minnesota, walked off their jobs Tuesday morning, the first ever strike at a Mayo hospital, according to an announcement from the Service Employees International Union that was emailed to FierceHealthcare. Mayo Clinic and the patients and staff in Albert Lea have been at odds over the system's decision to relocate certain services, like inpatient care and obstetrics, to another hospital in Austin, Minnesota. The workers voted Dec. 7 to go on a one-day strike after the system insisted on including language in their contracts that would allow them to make significant changes to benefits, wages and working conditions, according to the announcement.

Tenet Healthcare may sell Conifer Health Solutions

Tenet Healthcare announced that it may sell Conifer Health Solutions, one of its subsidiaries with a focus on healthcare business services. The sale, if a potential deal is reached, would be part of the system's ongoing cost reduction efforts. The system has been on shaky financial ground of late, and it announced in October that it would cut 1,300 positions to reduce expenses by $150 million. (Announcement

Ex-New Jersey governor steps down from University Hospital's board 

Donald DiFrancesco, former governor of New Jersey and the chair of the board for Newark's University Hospital, will step down from his role at the hospital following controversy after he promoted a friend to a "low-show" job, reports DiFrancesco recommended Jill Cooperman, an attorney and friend, for a position in the hospital's legal department. He then changed her role as his assistant, a "no-show" or "low-show" position for which she was paid more than $500,000 in salary, other benefits and severance between 2014 and 2016 as the hospital struggled financially. (

USF Health COO resigns amid concerns about 'inappropriate relationship' with subordinate 

Edmund Funai, M.D., resigned from his role as chief operating officer at the University of Southern Florida Health following concerns that he was giving an assistant special treatment, reports the Tampa Bay Times. USF officials investigated Funai following an anonymous complaint about an "inappropriate relationship" and determined he did not violate rules but used a lack of judgment. Funai denies the allegations. (Tampa Bay Times

Ochsner reaches agreement to operate two Louisiana hospitals 

Ochsner Health System has struck a tentative deal to operate two state-owned safety net hospitals. Gov. John Bel Edwards will formally announce the agreement between Ochsner, Louisiana State University and previous operator BRF today, reports The News Star. BRF will retain a role in operating the two University Health facilities. (The News Star