A celebration was held on Monday in front of the Pineville Hospital as Mayor Scott Madon announced the city is now in charge of the day-to-day operations at the facility.
“It’s a great day in Pineville, I can tell you that. As of 5:01 today I’m happy to announce that this hospital is back in the hands of this community and local folks will now be making decisions on this hospital,” Madon told a crowd a hundreds gathered in front of the hospital’s steps.
Confetti went off and a new Pineville Community Healthcare sign was unveiled.
“PCHC is going to be our new name. We can’t use PCH right now, it’s still in litigation. When that gets over we’ll do everything we can to get it back.,” Madon added. “We’re still hammering out some final details but the document has been signed by the judge and we now have ownership back of our hospital.”
Monday announcement came following weeks of ups and downs as the hospital came very close to closing its doors on several occasions.
Hospital employees have gone eight weeks without being paid. Just when it appeared the city would be able to step in after negotiating with the bankruptcy court the news came down that CMS had terminated the hospital’s Medicare agreement. As of last Saturday the hospital could no longer care for Medicare and Medicaid patients, which make up about 75-percent of its revenue.
Last Tuesday, the city council took no action after meeting in executive session to discuss the possibility of stepping in to help keep the hospital open.
“We were literally a couple of hours away from making the decision to close it down,” Madon said.
Things changed last Wednesday as the city resumed negotiations and an emergency meeting was called for Thursday morning.
Madon released a statement following that meeting:
“The City of Pineville is doing all it can do to provide support for the efforts of the Bankruptcy Trustee to protect and preserve the assets of the Pineville Community Hospital Association, the former operator of the hospital. The City approved a $100,000 loan, secured by a first priority lien on the Pineville Community Hospital’s real estate. This will be used to fund professionals hired by the Trustee.”
Thursday afternoon Dr. Ronald and JoAnn Dubin along with Mike and Sandy Long from Long’s Pic Pac and Long’s 1 & Up distributed $100 in gift certificates to all hospital employees at the hospital cafeteria. Madon briefly spoke to the employees and told them good news would be announced on Monday.
In addition to announcing that the city had gained control of the hospital, Madon told the employees that part of the agreement is that money received on accounts receivable will go directly to paying them back pay for the weeks of missed checks.
“So many people I’ve talked to have got bills from this hospital. I know they sent out bills from three and four years ago along with current bills. Those are being sent from out of Nashville but some of the services were performed here,” he explained at Monday’s announcement.. “All of the accounts receivable that come in after 5:01 today will go toward paying the employees’ back pay. If we do not get enough money on our accounts receivable, we also have a lien on 50-percent of the assets inside this hospital to make sure they get paid.
“If you’ve got bills from PCH, please get down here and see if you owe them. I had four of them and I wasn’t going to pay them because I thought why would I pay Americore any money when they’re not paying employees. I had them checked and I did owe on one of them. I would encourage you to come down here and check on your bills. Any money paid on those bills will go to the employees.”
There is no current timetable on when the employees will get their back pay and Madon said the while Monday was certainly a day to celebrate the hospital wasn’t out of the woods yet.
“We’ve still got a lot of hurdles to jump. We’ve cleared the first one in getting it back in our hands. Next we’ve got to get Medicare and Medicaid reinstated and the final thing is we’ve got to get this partner in place that will give us a lot of stability,” he said.
Nirsing supervisor Mary Bishop said the hospital will be appealing the Medicare provider termination agreement.
“There are some things with Kentucky OIG that we have to correct. We’ll have to be resurveyed. We’re going to start the appeal process this week. The agreement today had to be done for the other things to get done,” she said.
Madon clarified that the city will be managing the hospital along with the current staff. Ownership of the license and certificates of need are being transferred to the trustee handling the bankruptcy case. In the meantime, the city is in negotiations to partner with a new company to take over the hospital permanently.
“We feel like it could happen soon but we’re going to back the table to negotiate with them. That’s about all I can say right now. I can say it’s going to be very positive and it seems like it’s going to happen pretty quick,” he said. ”We have some folks that we feel like are going to come on board pretty quick and it’s going to be a game-changer for this hospital. We’ll get a lot of our services back and a lot of things will happen quickly. “
The city did not assume any of the hospital’s debts in the agreement, but also agreed to keep the staff at the minimum levels while the hospital is not generating much revenue.
“We had to present a budget to the bankruptcy folks and in that budget we funded payroll for our critical staff. Now there are going to be some layoffs, temporarily until we can get lined out,” Madon said speaking to the employees. “We don’t have a choice because right now we don’t have the money to pay you. I’m just being honest with you. We’re going to keep the critical staff in place until we get Medicare and Medicaid reinstated. Once we get that we’ll be able to hire some people back.”
He added that the best way anyone can support the hospital right now is by using it.
“If you want to keep this hospital, when you go to your doctor you have the right to say I want my lab work or my x-rays done at this hospital,” he said. “I stand here today confident to tell you that we have a good hospital.”