Following a special called meeting on Tuesday, the Pineville City Council has decided against moving forward with their plan to borrow money to help the former Pineville Community Hospital meet payroll in order to stay open.
“We’ve decided not to take any action at this time,” Mayor Scott Madon said after the meeting. “The assurances that we first thought we had, we don’t have at this time to put the kind of money in that would fund the payroll. We’re still willing to help in any way we can, we’re still open to any future negotiations that the City can help with but at this time we are going to have to step back from being a party to or part of the continuance of the hospital.”
Negotiations first hit a snag on May 15th when the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) terminated the hospital’s agreement to treat patients with Medicare and Medicaid. Due to the city’s ongoing negotiations, a temporary stay of that termination was granted but that stay was pulled Friday night.
The hospital’s agreement was terminated for issues involving its governing body and not having adequate nursing staff to provide quality assessment and nursing services.
If the city were to borrow the money to fund the payroll, it would not only open the door to raising taxes to pay it back but the city would also face taking on some liability for the hospital’s operations.
“It’s just too much of a risk for the city to take. We cannot do that without some more secure collateral than what they’re offering at this time,” Madon said. “I can’t consciously recommend it and once I laid it all out I think the city council saw there was no way that we could take the risk.”
The Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center board had a meeting scheduled for Wednesday. At that meeting the board would decide how to proceed.
Medical Center CEO Kevin Couch issued the following statement late Tuesday afternoon: “CMS has terminated our Medicare provider agreement, effective May 24, 2019. Our license is still active, and we continue to work with CMS and our State Licensing Agency.”
Madon said he doesn’t see a good future for the hospital without an injection of money to fund the payroll.
“The termination notice has come down from CMS and they need several employees to help correct those issues. I’m sure those employees cannot continue to work without being paid and I certainly would not either,” he said. “If there’s not money put in to the hospital to pay those employees to stay the outcome does not look good, in my opinion.”
When Americore first took over operations two years ago, the hospital had well over 300 employees. When the city first tried to step in a few weeks ago that number was down to 135. There are currently between 90 and 100 people still employed at the hospital.
“If they leave or take a layoff right now some of them can go draw their unemployment. Some of them have not had any income in eight weeks now so at least they can do that.,” Madon said.
He added that if the hospital is ultimately forced to close, there could still be options for finding a suitable tennent for the building.
“We were dealing with one company that was looking at immediately buying the property and putting something in like a triage center. I would think that company might still be on the table, they were looking at it as just a real estate purchase,” he said. “I don’t know about the other folks we were talking to and where it puts them with the hospital losing Medicare and Medicaid.”