NRMC news continues troubling trend

Published 12:03am Tuesday, April 1, 2014

The headline of the Thursday edition of The Natchez Democrat, “NRMC bankruptcy petition filed,” came as a surprise to no one. The petition had been filed the previous day by NRMC attorney Mr. Walter Brown and Board Chairman Rev. Leroy White.

The article went on to state that the NRMC Trustees were scheduled to meet with the Supervisors at 9 a.m. that day, Thursday.

So I anxiously awaited the Friday edition of The Natchez Democrat, hoping that some of the long-awaited financial information on NRMC might have been shared with the Supervisors at the Thursday meeting.

Instead, Friday’s article concerning the Thursday meeting was mostly devoted to news that the Supervisors had ratified an agreement that will extend a $1.5 million dollar line of credit, through United Mississippi Bank, to NRMC. Kudos to UMB for helping keep the hospital doors open!

It was reported though, that when the Supervisors asked whether they would receive a copy of the NRMC audit, Mr. Brown replied that the accounting firm had not released it yet. He stated a draft copy was released to UMB as part of the credit line agreement, but the audit has not been finalized.

“If you want financial information, read the petition for bankruptcy, which is about 100 pages long,” Brown said. “You will have all the information about the hospital you will need. It will tell you all you need more easily than the audit.”

If Mr. Brown were a doctor, I would say he needs to work on his bedside manner. Since he is an attorney, I will just say that sounds pretty arrogant, given the current circumstances.

Case No. 14-01048 in The United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, In Re: Natchez Regional Medical Center, is well over 100 pages, so I have not read it from start to finish as of this writing. Here are a few of the highlights that I was able to glean from it.

Doc 3, the “Summary of Schedules” listing assets and liabilities states Total Assets as $27,819,088.50, and Total Liabilities as $20,805,124.37. We were told previously that NRMC liabilities exceeded its assets by $3,000,000. Hmmm!

Schedule E – Creditors Holding Unsecured Priority Claims: NRMC/Benefit Management Systems, Inc. – $527,558.18; and PERS (Public Employee Retirement System) of Mississippi — $448,160.38. Hmmm!

At least these were classified as “Priority Claims.”

Doc 5, “Motion for Determination that Appointment of Patient Care Ombudsman is Unnecessary.” Item No. 10. Presence of Licensing/Supervising Entities; The Fifth Bullet Point under item No. 10 is Board of Trustees, which “shall be responsible for supervising the business affairs of NRMC in a manner which can attest to one level of patient care for all …” Given where that Board has led us, that is more unsettling than reassuring to me.

Bullet Point Six under Item No. 10. is Adams County Board of Supervisors. This states that “Hospital management regularly reports to the Board of Supervisors on the financial affairs of the hospital.” Based on what the Supervisors have said publicly, this is simply not true.

The Supervisors’ attorney should file a brief stating that financial information has been withheld from them. Bankruptcy attorney Shaffer should publicly rebuke whoever told her to put that in her petition, because they lied to her.

Item No. 16 in Doc 5 is Presence and Sufficiency of Internal Safeguards to Ensure Appropriate Level of Care. This item touts the hiring of Healthcare Management Partners to manage the administration of the bankruptcy of the hospital.

Sorry folks, not enough space left to even address this issue. I’ll have to save that one for another day.

Most certainly to be continued.

Chuck Fields is an Adams County resident.

 

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