DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. — She put her job on the line when she discovered Halifax Health Medical Center was sanctioning unnecessary treatments to make more money.
Now the woman behind the costliest whistleblower lawsuit of its kind in U.S. history is finally speaking out to Channel 9's Lori Brown in her first interview since the case was settled.
Elin Kunz believes patients are safe at Halifax now, but that's only because as part of the settlement, the government is now policing the hospital.
Five years ago, Kunz could never have imagined how dramatically her life would change.
She was working in the compliance department of Halifax, a job she's held for 16 years. That's when she says she began discovering disturbing information.
It painted a scary picture of a hospital admitting patients who didn't need to be there and doctors getting illegal kickbacks for performing surgeries or referring patients.
"I was scared for patients," Kunz said.
But her concerns fell on deaf ears, she told Channel 9's Lori Brown.
"I was afraid it could be criminal because we knew we'd broken the law and we didn't do anything about it," Kunz said.
Kunz went on to hire whistleblower attorney Marlan B. Wilbanks, of Wilbanks & Bridges Law, and the federal government joined in on the suit.
"Elin followed her
conscience and it worked out for her, but she had no guarantees," Wilbanks said.
In the end, the lawsuit cost the hospital $120 million, a record-setting settlement. Kunz received $20 million from it.
"Some of the headings will be that I won millions of dollars," Kunz said. "This is not about winning. It's about doing the right thing."
Wilbanks believes Volusia County residents should hold the hospital accountable.
"The same executives who caused the train wreck are still driving the train," Wilbanks said.
Kunz and her attorney hope the lawsuit will prompt more patients to ask questions.
"I knew if it had been my mom or dad I would want to someone to investigate," Kunz said.