Florida hospitals and clinics to pay $3.5 million

Radiation oncology providers in Pensacola will pay $3.5 million to the federal government and the state of Florida to resolve allegations they improperly billed government health-care programs.

The U.S. Department of Justice announced Friday that the providers, which included Sacred Heart Health System and West Florida Medical Center Clinic, had been accused of improperly billing Medicare, Medicaid and the health care program used by uniformed military.

The allegations included billing for services that were performed while doctors were on vacation as well as billing twice for the same services.

The improper billing is alleged to have taken place between 2007 and 2011 at locations in Pensacola and Destin. The allegations were first raised in a whistleblower lawsuit.

The whistleblower, Richard Koch, will receive nearly $610,000.

Pajama Drive for abused, neglected children

Snuggling into brand new pajamas can bring a little comfort when life gets rough. This is especially true for children who have experienced abuse or neglect. Social workers have found that a cozy pair of p.j.’s can help ease distress and promote a sense of security for children who must be separated from their families.

For the fifth year, FamiliesFirst Network of Lakeview (FFN) will conduct a campaign to collect new, unworn pajamas for children under its supervision. The “Tucking Kids in Safe and Sound” pajama drive began Sept. 16 for Okaloosa, Walton, Escambia and Santa Rosa counties.

Needed are new, unworn pajamas in infant through adult sizes for larger children. Collection boxes for the p.j.’s will be placed at all FamiliesFirst service centers and at various churches and businesses in the four-county area. ) Call 850-453-7777 for locations in your area.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day

Gulfarium on Okaloosa Island will host Exotic Pet Amnesty Day from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Oct. 5 and will be free and open to the public. Adopters are needed with the knowledge and expertise to care for exotic pets, as it is expected quite a few nonnative animals will be turned over during the day. Adoption applications must be received by Oct. 3 to be processed in time for this event.

Anyone interested in adopting exotic pets can download the application forms at Adopters must have knowledge of natural history and safe caging requirements for the animals they are interested in adopting. There is no fee for becoming an adopter. A veterinarian will examine each animal, and the healthy animals will be placed with qualified adopters.

Exotic Pet Amnesty Day is a family event, with a chance to get up close and even touch animals. Experts also will be on hand to talk about proper care of exotic pets.