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Halifax Whistleblower, Friends Were Shunned

The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

When ElinBaklid-Kunz was concerned about the way her bosses at Halifax Health were doing business, she got help from a federal law designed to protect whistleblowers around since the Civil War.

"The False Claims Act seemed to be the only tool I had to report this to the government," said BaklidKunz, a veteran compliance officer at the hospital who first filed the lawsuit in 2009.

In an interview with NPR’s Planet Money on Wednesday, Baklid-Kunz says the protection didn’t make staying on the job easy. She remained on the job from 2009 until July 31, when she resigned and received one year of severance pay, according to the Daytona Beach News-Journal.

Baklid-Kunz, who is just now speaking publicly about the case, says she was shunned in the office. And coworkers who still wanted to get lunch would only meet her far from the office.

"She was literally told that if she cared about her job, she had to stay away from me," Baklid-Kunz told Planet Money. "When it started impacting my friends, it was very difficult."

The False Claims Act, designed initially to encourage defense industry whistleblowers, was a major reason why the Daytona Beach hospital agreed to pay more than $120 million in connection to Baklid-Kunz’s claims of Medicare fraud.

Baklid-Kunz and her attorneys were awarded more than $20 million.

Listen to the entire story here.

Mary Shedden is news director at WUSF.