Corbett settles nurse-training allegations

Keith Loria Dec. 13, 2010, 4:16pm


HARRISBURG, Pa. (Legal Newsline) - Pennsylvania Attorney General Tom Corbett announced on Thursday that he has reached a $508,000 settlement with Summit Health over alleged overcharging of registered nurses for their training.

As the parent company of Chambersburg Hospital and Waynesboro Hospital, Summit Health was allegedly responsible for misrepresentations in the advertising and marketing of both of the hospitals' nursing education programs.

In the suit, Corbett alleged that some students who successfully completed a Summit Health program to become registered nurses were later charged as much as $35,000 for what they believed to be free training.

"Summit Health placed newspaper ads seeking nursing students, claiming that 'tuition and books are free' and allegedly making statements during orientation that students would have no obligation to Summit if they did not receive a job within one year of completing the program," Corbett said.

"Some students who enrolled believing that the education would truly be free were later shocked to receive bills for thousands of dollars in tuition, text books, supplies, equipment, fees for criminal background clearances and a variety of other charges."

Allegedly, students were required to sign a promissory note for a loan of up to $35,000 on their first day of class, but weren't given the entire agreement to look over.

The students were instead only presented with the signature page to sign. Other students claimed that they only knew about the possible financial cost when alerted by classmates, Corbett said.

Summit allegedly gave the students an assignment to write essays on the "current nursing shortage," which Corbett alleges may have caused students to believe that employment was guaranteed upon completion of the training program.

Since many students found no such job opportunities after graduating, they found themselves burdened with thousands of dollars of debt, Corbett said.

Under terms of the agreement, Summit Health will cease all efforts to collect a total of $478,333 in tuition and other related fees from eligible students. It is also required to pay $5,000 in civil penalties and another $25,000 for costs associated with the litigation process.

Furthermore, Summit Health must provide clear and accurate information to students enrolling in any future educational program and can not participate in any misleading or deceptive claims about its training programs or financing issues.

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