Hospital contract dispute leads to claims, counter claims

Staff file photo

The McAlester Regional Health Center at 1 Clark Bass Boulevard operates as a public trust of the city of McAlester. 

A dispute over bidding procedures, cleaning contracts, public records and other issues at the McAlester Regional Health Center has resulted in a flurry of claims, complaints and counter claims regarding the matter.

McAlester resident Monica Ford said all she wanted was a chance to bid on a lucrative cleaning and environmental services contract at the McAlester Regional Health Center, which is a public trust of the city of McAlester.

Instead, a Shawnee-based company called True Solutions got the original job without the hospital going through the bidding process at the time, according to documents reviewed by the News-Capital. 

A five-year contract totaling nearly $7 million was signed by James Fraser, of McAlester Regional Health Center, and Jason Draper of True Solutions Management & Consulting on Dec. 3, 2019, according to documents.

The contract called for the hospital to pay True Solutions a total of $6,973,263 over the five-year period.

Ford operates Klean-R-Us Janitorial Service at 444 S. Main St. in McAlester. 

“I’ve been in business for 30 years. We have a 5-Star rating. Why couldn’t they give us the chance to bid on it?” said Ford.

Ford said when she complained, the hospital rendered True Solutions’ original contract void. Ford acknowledged that she later had an opportunity to enter a bid for the job.

She said after she complained to the hospital and the original contract was voided, the job went up for bid.

“We were offered a chance to bid, actually twice,” said Ford. She did not bid for either of those jobs.

She said the first time there had been a death in the Klean-R-Us Family, so one of her employees participated in a two-hour pre-bid walkthrough of the hospital on behalf of her company. Ford concluded that more time and additional information was needed to cover the entire facility and requirements.

Ford said the hospital offered a second walkthrough and would make three and one-half hours available. She said she declined that offer because part of the facility had already been covered; she was already familiar with some of the buildings and she felt she could cover the rest on her own.

Ford said she ultimately did not feel her company received adequate information regarding equipment, supplies and other matters that she felt she needed in order to make an informed and realistic bid, including such simple matters as an estimate of how much toilet paper was required for hospital rooms. Ford said she did receive some additional information the day before the bid was submitted, but it came too late for her to work up a bid.

“It was impossible to come to a price,” Ford said of her conclusion.

Still, Ford maintains she should have been allowed to bid on the original job.

Ford said she and her incorporated company are used to handling large facilities.

“We’re mostly commercial cleanup,” she said, although the company also handles large institutions and sometimes even residential sites. She said she’s currently decreased the residential service due to COVID-19.

Ford mentioned Spirit AeroSystems and National Oilwell in McAlester as examples of large buildings her cleaning service handles. Unfortunately for her, employees of both companies and the community of McAlester, both Spirit and National Oilwell recently confirmed they are leaving McAlester.

Ford said she has from 45-to-50 employees who work with Klean-R-Us and another company she operates that cleans up crime scenes, meth labs, accidents or other situations called 911 Aftermath. She said she has a shop in Ada and sends crews to do jobs in other cities in the area, including Muskogee, Idabel, and Durant and jobs also extend to the east into Arkansas.

Ford said she has previously worked in MRHC buildings.

“We’ve cleaned buildings owned by the hospital, but the doctors were responsible for it,” she said, with the hospital not responsible for providing those services for that particular building. She said her company also provided cleaning services to the Warren Clinic at one time.

Ford said her company currently provides cleaning and sanitation services for the Mercy Clinic in Ada, so she was aware of when projects should be let out to bid.

She said when she learned a company had been awarded the job of providing cleaning and sanitation services for the McAlester Regional Health Center, she contacted the hospital.

“I checked to see if it went out for bids,” she said. Ford said she learned the contract had gone  to True Solutions.

She said she was stunned to find that True Solutions had been awarded a five-year contract for $6.9 million without the job going out for bids. 

Ford said those actions were done without approval of the McAlester Regional Health Center Authority Board.

Ford’s attorney, Todd Mercer, said that Ford sent a letter of complaint to the hospital board, but did not receive a reply from the hospital board.

“She was expecting to get something back from the board,” Mercer said.

Instead, she received a letter from the law firm the hospital hired to investigate the complaint.

Next: The hospital’s response.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

Contact James Beaty at jbeaty@mcalesternews.com.

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