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Interim CEO for embattled health care facility speaks

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Posted at 5:36 PM, Feb 17, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-17 17:59:23-05

MUSKEGON, Mich. — It's been a tough past few days for Muskegon Family Care employees, patients, and leadership who on Friday, broke the news to employees about the facilities impending closure.

Mitze Alexander, the facility's interim CEO told FOX 17, "We had some difficult decisions to make, and we did have to terminate staff on that day and I think there was some misunderstandings when that happened but our doors were still open at that time."

Alexander says she became the center's interim CEO in December. That's after Michigan State Police opened an investigation into possible embezzlement under the previous CEO Sheila Bridges.

"I would say there is an investigation on our financials, but I would not be able to comment on anything further than that because that's unknown at this time," Alexander said.

Clearing up some confusion on Monday, Muskegon Family Care announced it will close on March 31 and will continue providing all services until then. Alexander says no appointments have been canceled.

"The patient is our main concern here. So we have letters that we're providing to them. Our lines are open to give them instruction," she explained.

FOX 17 asked her if and how things could have been handled any differently after FOX 17 heard from patients who felt there was a lack of communication on Friday.

Alexander replied, "Well, at that particular time nothing was going on with our patients. So perceptions were made, but unfortunately perception is your perception."

On Friday, an administrator of the center's Facebook page acknowledged a high call volume but didn't initially say anything to address the confusion of a closure.

When asked about morale around the facility, Alexander replied, "I'll say it again that we had to make some difficult decisions, and anytime something like that happens people are affected."

Nurse Gina Wadkins says she's worked at Muskegon Family Care for 19 years.

"We weren't told what to expect but to report today," she said.

Wadkins said, "We weren't sure if we were gonna see patients, if we were just going to clean the place out, and I found out I was one of the ones terminated among many others."

She says "everybody's heartbroken" and that it's like losing part of her family.

"We love this place. A lot of us have been there for many years," Wadkins said.

She has the following message for patients.

"Hang in there. We love you. We're victims of all this too, and I wish them all well because there's a lot of patients who need a lot of care. We were happy to provide it. We loved our work, and we're upset to see it all go," Wadkins expressed.

As far as alternatives once Muskegon Family Care closes, Mercy Health provided a statement saying:

Mercy Health is aware of the concern and discussion in the community as it relates to Muskegon Family Care. Our leadership is involved in community conversations with Muskegon Family Care, Hackley Community Care, other local health care organizations, and community leaders to address this crisis in our community. While Muskegon Family Care is a separate community health center not owned by Mercy Health, we are committed to working with them to implement a smooth transition for their patients.