Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System Employees Angry Over Pay Loss - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Cherokee Village, AR -- Kathy Morris Reports

Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System Employees Angry Over Pay Loss

DECEMBER 10, 2004 -- Posted at: 10:45pm CST

CHEROKEE VILLAGE, AR - "I was counting on this check to help with my house payment," said Carla Oetjen, a mother with a 17 year old son. "Well if my house payment is late, my house reverts to rent. If it reverts to rent, I can't pay it and I'm on the street. I have a 17 year old son."

The worry employees of Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System have after hearing that they won't get their final paycheck wears on their faces.

Oetjen added, "Sarah's gonna loose her truck. Heidi's got babies that she's not going to be able to take care of."

Valerie West, the Director of Nursing, said after learning Thursday she had to tell her employees they wouldn't be getting their final paycheck, "All I could think of was how it was going to devastate all of our employees."

Workers said this isn't the first time they've had problems with their benefits or their paychecks.

Caren Anderson, a Nurses Aid, explained, "Not getting a paycheck, it's like the icing on the cake, and it's not butter cream. It don't taste real good."

"Last year in November we found out that we didn't have insurance, because the owner was not paying our premiums to the insurance company, and to get out of that, that's fraud," Pamela Smith, Dietary Assistant at Eastern Ozarks Regional Health System.

In fact, some say owner Robert Becht has post dated their paychecks in the past.

"Some of us got paid before the bank caught it. Others didn't," said Anderson. "Others were turned away and had to come back to the hospital and another check had to be written out for their account."

Budgets have been slashed.

They've filed for unemployment.

Smith said, "I thought for sure he would have paid us our last check. I would have thought he would have been big enough to do that."

These co-workers who are more like family members will hang onto each other, and hold out for hope that it won't be long before these doors are open again.

"I appreciate everything the community has done for us, and for us being there for the community," said Rodger Pohler, Licensed Practical Nurse. "I certainly hope the community will come to help us out and bail us out if they can, because we ain't got nothing."

At noon on Friday, Judge Harold Crawford announced to listeners of radio station KSAR that a benefit account has been established at First National Banking Company. Branches are located in Mammoth Spring, Hardy, Cherokee Village and Ash Flat. It takes $38,000 to make payroll. They are asking the public for help.

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