FORT WORTH, TX CorVel executives left the Fort Worth mayor’s office Thursday saying nothing.
It’s what one of their employees is accused of saying that had them at City Hall in the first place.
“We have had a very productive meeting with them, had a nice apology,” Mayor Betsy Price said.
Officer Shane Drake was shot by a suspect while responding to a panic alarm at a residence near Hulen Mall on January 29.
As Drake was being treated at Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital, Mayor Betsy Price alleged that a CorVel representative asked “inflammatory questions” to the officer’s family, colleagues and hospital staff. She demanded a personal meeting with CorVel officials to discuss her concerns.
In a statement to News 8, CorVel called the incident an “unfortunate misunderstanding,” but said it’s contracted to immediately assign a case manager. The company maintains that an experienced nurse employed by CorVel was dispatched “to provide assistance and support” to the wounded officer.
But after CorVel’s unnamed nurse was introduced to Drake’s family, “there was apparently a misunderstanding as to who she was and what her purpose was for being there,” the company’s statement said. “Her presence was not well received, and after a brief interaction, the nurse left the hospital.”
The company said that it has written instructions from the city that “in the event of a catastrophic or severe on-the-job injury, a nurse case manager must be immediately assigned.”
Still, Price said the city will now be auditing CorVel’s workers’ compensation cases over the past two years. A city spokesman said they average between 1,100 and 1,200 cases a year.
We asked the mayor if that meant she was considering ending the contract with CorVel.
“I don’t know yet,” she said, adding they’ll get the audit results back and proceed from there.
Sgt. Rick Van Houten, president of the Fort Worth Police Officers’ Association, applauded Price’s actions.
“This organization has taken a stance that we should be searching for a new firm,” he told News 8, adding that Sgt. Drake’s situation with CorVel may be the worst offense, but it’s far from the only one he’s heard about.
“We’ve had so many complaints from our officers and our injured employees that our association has had to place a workers comp attorney on retainer to assist our officers through the process,” Van Houten said. He said that costs the union tens of thousands of dollars a year.
And now, CorVel’s own $1 million annual contract with the city may come under scrutiny when the audit is done in a few weeks. CorVel representative Tony Knight said they look forward to working with the city and the audit process.
Here is the full text of CorVel’s written statement:
On Friday, January 30, a Fort Worth Police Department coordinator asked CorVel to send a nurse to the hospital to provide assistance and support to an injured police officer who was being treated there and to his family.
The registered nurse who went to the hospital has 25 years experience working with severely injured individuals, a Master’s degree in Public Health and she is a Certified Case Manager. She was met at the hospital by police officers who were expecting her.
At this point in time, the nurse had already been working with several other City employees in various stages of recovery. She had been well received by injured City employees and their families in the past. She was also currently working with another City police officer recovering from major injuries, which had gone well from the time she first visited in the hospital under similar circumstances.
When she arrived at Harris Memorial, the nurse was escorted to the family by a police liaison officer who was not the usual officer that handles these duties, and there was apparently a misunderstanding as to who she was and what her purpose was for being there. Her presence was not well received and after a brief interaction the nurse left the hospital.
CorVel has investigated the matter and we are confident that the nurse acted professionally and responsibly throughout the interaction and that the incident was an unfortunate misunderstanding.
CorVel met with City officials on Monday, February 2, to discuss what happened and ask that they convey our apologies to the officer and his family. We also asked that they convey our concern for the officer and our wishes for his speedy recovery.
According to news reports over the weekend, there were questions why someone representing the City’s worker’s compensation management firm was present at the hospital the day after the officer had undergone surgery and was resting in the hospital’s intensive care unit.
Unfortunately, the news stories did not report that the Police Department coordinator had requested the nurse or that sending a nurse as a case coordinator early in the recovery process is an industry standard and a service that the City wants provided to its workers with serious injuries.
In fact, the City of Fort Worth has issued written Special Instructions to CorVel that, in the event of a catastrophic or severe on-the-job injury, a nurse case manager must be immediately assigned
to the injured worker. Both the Fort Worth Police Department and CorVel were following this protocol when the nurse was sent to the hospital.
The purpose of sending a nurse as an early point of contact is to offer assistance to the injured employee and their family, and to evaluate their immediate and future needs for coordination of medical services.
Since the 1950s, employers have seen the benefits of sending a skilled registered nurse as early as possible to assist the injured employee to attain the maximum potential recovery from serious injury. Early intervention is the industry standard, widely practiced, and proven to deliver better outcomes for the injured employee.
CorVel regrets that any misunderstanding of our nurse’s role was disturbing or insensitive to the family of the wounded officer.
We have 330 employees in the Fort Worth area who rely on the City’s first responders for their own safety and security and who deeply appreciate the risks they face and the service and sacrifice they provide on a daily basis.
CorVel will continue working with the Mayor, the City and the Police Department to resolve the misunderstandings surrounding this event and to continue our cordial and productive relationship.