Embattled guardian accused of improperly billing AdventHealth nearly $4M

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Rebecca Fierle, a former professional guardian under criminal investigation, improperly billed AdventHealth nearly $4 million in the last decade for services she provided to its most vulnerable patients, according to an investigation report released by the Orange County comptroller.

Guardians are appointed by judges to make all legal, financial and medical decisions for elderly or disabled patients. The services are often paid for by states or guardianship wards.

The investigation found that Ms. Fierle billed Altamonte Springs, Fla.-based AdventHealth $3.96 million between January 2009 and June 2019 for services she provided to 682 patients. She didn't report the payments to the court. Guardians, under Florida law, are not allowed to directly bill hospitals without court approval.

Orange County Comptroller Phil Diamond also cited instances of double-billing, where Ms. Fierle submitted bills to both the hospital and the court. In these instances, Advent often paid both Ms. Fierle and the court. 

The report also found that of the 682 Advent patients Ms. Fierle represented, only 210 were placed into guardianship by a judge, which means the court had no oversight into her handling of medical decisions and finances for the remaining 472 patients. 

"We're troubled by a lot of the findings that we made, and we hope [the report] will lead to a better system," Mr. Diamond told the Orlando Sentinel. "Senior citizens, elderly people or disabled people — those are people that ought to be protected and not taken advantage of."

Bryan Malenius, an AdventHealth spokesperson, told Spectrum News 13, "We are both surprised and dismayed with the Orange County comptroller’s findings that a professional guardian withheld information from the court and improperly billed the hospital and the court for resources to care for the most vulnerable in our community.

Ms. Fierle is under criminal investigation in connection to the death of a man in a Tampa hospital for whom she allegedly filed a "do not resuscitate" order against his wishes.

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