Responsibility needs to be taken for hospital debt

Published 4:00 pm Friday, June 15, 2018

Financial woes at rural hospitals are nothing new in America. According to Becker’s Hospital CFO Report, there have been 83 rural hospital closures over the last eight years as of Jan. 26. Therefore it was no surprise when some of our local hospitals began to feel some of the pain as well.

Pineville Community Hospital felt most of the burden over the past two years. Concerns from the community about making payroll combined with the lack of finances increased the pressure to the point the hospital board turned to Americore Health for help.

Advance to the present, and the hospital continues to struggle with debt climbing and no one taking responsibility. Due to unpaid occupational taxes and bills in the sum of $429,309.69, the City of Pineville filed a lien on the building on April 30.

Inaction from both Americore and the old Pineville Community Hospital Association has left Pineville Mayor Scott Madon with only one option — turn off the water if the bill isn’t paid.

Paying the bill, despite the large amount of money that is owed, isn’t the biggest issue on the table. It’s whose responsibility it is to pay it. Americore purchased the hospital operations and assets, but they did not purchase the building. What makes matters more complicated is Americore’s purchase of some hospital liabilities and not others.

During a previous interview with Madon, the mayor stated both sides are pointing the finger at the other. An alleged signed document stating Americore would pay the city has been rendered ineffective after Americore CEO Grant White said in an interview that he hasn’t seen the document and it wasn’t his signature on the agreement.

“If anyone knows me at all and has any clue what I’ve gone through personally to try to ensure these (employees) get paid week to week…they would know I’m not going to pay a bill that I’m not responsible for,” said White in a previous interview.

The finger pointing needs to stop and someone needs to step up to the plate and pay the bills that are owed to the city. Only Americore and the old Pineville Community Hospital board know who is really responsible for payment.

If the back-and-forth continues, the people who will suffer the most are the patients and the hospital employees. If the water is shut off, it will be those who are at the hospital 24/7 that will feel the brunt of the punishment.

So, someone needs to step up and do the right thing — pay the bill.