COVINGTON, LA (WVUE) - Former employees of the Louisiana Heart Hospital hope to file a class action lawsuit against the hospital after they were unexpectedly laid off when the hospital filed for bankruptcy.
It was standing room only at the Southern Hotel in Covington, where more than 100 former employees - and some who are still operating various clinics on the North Shore - turned out to learn about their legal options in a meeting hosted by the law firm Bruno & Bruno.
"We have been somewhat inundated by phone calls from very nervous individuals, doctors, employees of the Heart Hospital," said attorney Robert Bruno.
Some employees haven't left the job yet as they continue to work at small clinics in the hospital's network. They said the last few weeks have been unnerving.
"We still have to deal with patients that are calling every day, wondering where their doctors are going to. They're worried, the patients are worried, and so are the doctors. The doctors are worried, the doctors are more worried about their patients than they are themselves," said Jenny Harbour, an employee who works at a clinic but will be out of a job at the end of the month.
For some former employees, the future is unknown as they try to figure out where they'll get their next paycheck.
"You have so many people saturating the local economy looking for jobs, it's not easy. Yes, some of us have been offered jobs, but in many cases, it's an hour or an hour and a half away," said former employee Faith Cassidy.
Employees said one of their biggest issues is the loss of their paid time off. Vacation hours they've earned over the years seems to have evaporated and the hospital hasn't offered any way to fill the gap between jobs.
"[I lost] close to $14,000 to $15,000 between severance and vacation time. That's a lot, enough to get anyone through a couple of months, and now we're all looking for jobs. I have an interview, but along with seven or eight of my co-workers. We're all looking for the same job," said Jill Tarzia.
It's one reason Bruno believes his firm can help the hundreds of employees left out in the cold as the future of the Heart Hospital's network on the North Shore seems to crumble.
"Our job is to really play detective and find out if there any other angles, any other people out there with any connections where we could possibly find wrongdoing and get into some of their pockets. Find out who may have known or who may have contributed to the goings-on," Bruno said.
FOX 8 reached out to the Heart Hospital for comment, but the organization did not respond to our request.