Hospital hurting for funds

Published 12:37 am Saturday, February 23, 2008

NATCHEZ — Adams County Board of Supervisors President Henry Watts said the supervisors and the Natchez Regional Hospital Board of Trustees will meet Tuesday to discuss the hospital’s financial health.

Chairman of the hospital board Dan Bland said approximately $7.5 million in unpaid billing has put a financial strain on the hospital.

The hospital, aside from costly individual lawsuits, has no way to recover the money Bland said, and it will be a total write off.

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“This is not a charity hospital,” he said. “We can’t treat with no reimbursement.”

To worsen matters, Bland said an expected Medicaid reimbursement of nearly $1.5 million the hospital was expecting was recently cancelled.

The hospital is currently in the red, he said.

In recent history Natchez Regional Hospital has had a bumpy financial road.

In 2007 the hospital reported that it had turned its first profit since 2000.

But the hospital’s financial condition has its employees concerned.

Recent layoffs at the hospital, compounded with the financial problems, have generated rumors of a possible closure.

One former nurse at the hospital, who wanted remain anonymous, said she was recently laid-off with no notice.

She was told financial problems were at the root of her termination.

“It’s scary,” she said.

She said the seemingly sporadic layoffs have workers walking the halls in fear.

“They are afraid,” she said.

Bland said the rumors of the hospital’s closure are false and only cause undue panic.

“This is not a mass layoff,” he said.

Bland said over the last two weeks only six to seven workers have been let go.

Some of the employees constituted over staffing and others were simply not needed Bland said.

For instance one cardiology nurse was let go, because the hospital has no cardiologist, he said.

The hospital’s CEO Jeff Wesselman said he would not comment on the matter.