Embattled RoxComp facility could be sold to meet debt

$3M debt includes wages to more than 80 full-time employees

Howard Manly | 6/5/2013, 2:05 p.m.

As the court-appointed receiver of the troubled Roxbury Comprehensive Health Center, Joseph Feaster knew he had his work cut out for him.

Now that he has been at the helm for the last two months, Feaster says “there’s little sense in pointing fingers at anyone at this time.”

Feaster’s job is to close out the accounts at RoxComp and that could very well mean selling the center’s building on Warren Street to meet an estimated $3 million in debt.

Included in that debt is about $500,000 in wages to about 85 full-time employees who were not paid for two periods shortly before the center was closed earlier this year.

With only between $300,000 and $500,000 in outstanding payments owed to the Center, Feaster said the shortfall is demanding a thorough look at all of RoxComp’s assets. “We’re dealing with auditors right now,” Feaster said in a wide-ranging interview. “We’ve already contacted a real estate appraiser and broker.”

Court documents detail a litany of serious deficiencies at RoxComp under the leadership of CEO Anita Crawford, who abruptly resigned earlier this year.

The sale of the building would be a dramatic end to one of the most enduring health institutions in Roxbury. Started in 1969, its mission was to serve those in the community with little money and a myriad of health issues.

That mission never changed, but for a variety of reasons, the center’s management became what state Attorney General Martha Coakley characterized as “dysfunctional.”

It was Coakley who recommended Feaster, an attorney at McKenzie and Associates and former interim president and CEO of Dimock Health Center, to serve as receiver, a recommendation that was approved by Suffolk Superior Court Judge Garry Inge.

Citing “severe dysfunction” with finances, administration and patient services, Coakley explained that a receiver was necessary “because the Center is incapable of taking steps necessary to preserve the health, safety and well-being of its patients; wind down its operations and conserve the center’s assets.”

Court documents detail a litany of serious deficiencies at RoxComp under the leadership of CEO Anita Crawford, who abruptly resigned earlier this year. Among the ongoing problems are failures to notify an estimated 4,000 patients about its closure and failure to pay its employees after they were effectively terminated on March 20, 2013.

The center terminated its clinical laboratory services in June 2012 because state public health regulators found “serious, unsafe patient care practices.”

Two months later, DPH suspended RoxComp’s dental services for similar unsafe patient care practices, including improper equipment sterilization and unsanitary conditions.

In all, federal regulators found that the center was not in compliance with 14 of 19 program requirements. They found “severe dysfunction with the Center’s administrative, financial and management functions, including the center’s board of directors.”

The problems continued this year. After a January 2013 site visit, state health regulators ordered the center to give up a drug treatment program as a result of “serious regulatory violations, including the lack of drug screening, the lack of random call-backs for persons on take home dosing regiments and low methadone stock.”