On Sunday, after an evening service in December of 2007, there was a list read from the podium of members that needed to report to the fellowship hall. My name was on the list and I immediately tried to figure out the purpose of the meeting from the other names on the list. It was a mystery, but not for long.
After the group was all in the room, Jane Whaley came in as her daughter and another lady were already at the front of the room. Jane began the session by saying that a certain doctor in the church had not taken a salary in two years. She wanted to talk to those in the church that owed him money. She was given a list of names and balances. (apparently, I did not see the list, but she constantly referenced it during the meeting.) Jane’s daughter and the other lady worked for the doctor. The second lady was the doctor’s daughter! They were answering Jane’s questions about who was paying and who was not, in front of the whole group!
Jane began addressing individuals calling their name, saying how much they owed and asking what they could pay? One of the attorney’s in the church was present. He asked why he was there? He was told in front of everyone- “Your grandmother owes a balance” (under $300). He immediately stroked a check, handed it to the doctor’s daughter and huffed as he left the room. That answered my question, if Jane had sought legal counsel before she set out to “help her friend..”.
Next, Jane called the name and amount owed for an African American lady sitting close to the front. “You owe this amount- (she stated it)- You have not paid since (she named the date)…When can you pay? Jane then brought her mother into the conversation by asking her to explain why her daughter was not paying? The accused lady began to recount her struggles of finding a job. Then Jane and her daughter chimed in that it was her fault she could not keep a job. Jane’s daughter told her – God has given you several jobs and you are not grateful. You attack God’s plan by the way you act on your job. Finally, it was either Jane or her daughter who told the lady in front of everyone that if she could not pay, then find another doctor. Actually, it was addressed to everyone, if they were not able to pay then go to another doctor.
There were about 25 folks in the room. My name was called, but the daughter of the doctor told Jane I was paying every month. Every person’s information was reviewed by Jane, some people she would not call out for what ever reason. But, it was clear, Jane was “trying to help her friend”.
So, what is wrong with this picture? My background is consumer debt collection. I have been in this field for most of 28 years. I have heard several attorneys speak on the Fair Debt Collection Practices Act (FDCPA), as well as the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of 1996(HIPMA). Though I have never personally been cited for violations of these two acts, I have seen others who were accused of such violations. In my opinion, this meeting was a total violation of both FDCPA and HIPAA. Not only Jane, but her daughter and the doctor’s daughter were violating the rights of EVERYONE in the room who where protected by these laws. There was an attempt to excuse the meeting as “trying to help a friend”, but the privacy of each person was violated. The audacity of Jane Whaley to call out individuals and reveal their medical debts in front of others is AMAZING! Obviously, she did not seek any counsel as to the legality of the meeting, otherwise the attorney who left a huff would have redirected her efforts. But, what is new about that thought? Jane seeks help from no one who would stop her personal agenda.
Why would no one have sought help with this meeting before? I do not know that someone has not, but if someone has, they risked being shunned and put out of WOFF for even bringing up the questions. I left the meeting in total shock about what I had just witnessed. I had seen power displays before from Jane in different situations, but this one was one of the most blatant displays in my 16 years of involvement at WOFF.
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