Mr. CEO: Who knows?

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 25, 2008

NATCHEZ — On April 14, Healthcare Management Partners, the management group recently hired to run Natchez Regional Medical Center, showed up to work — but the old management group never left.

Quorum Health Resources, originally hired by NRMC in 1992, was expected to stay on for one week or less in a transition period and turn the hospital over to Healthcare Management Partners.

But so far that hasn’t happened.

Email newsletter signup

Susan Hassell, Quorum’s Vice President of marketing and corporate communications, said Quorum has not been officially notified of the hospital’s intent to cancel their management contract.

“We still have an active management contract,” she said. “And we are fulfilling that contract.”

But not everyone agrees with Hassell.

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown said on March 19, Quorum was notified, in writing, of the hospital’s desire to terminate their contract.

In fact Brown said on April 14, Richard Smith an attorney for Quorum, attended a meeting at the hospital where Quorum’s contract termination was the topic of discussion.

The debate over Quorum’s contract has both Brown and Hassell agreeing that it has made for an “unusual” situation at the hospital.

Each day CEO Scott Phillips, who works for Healthcare Management Partners, CEO Jim Richardson and CFO Joe Amato, both hired by Quorum, all show up for work at the hospital.

But exactly who is running the hospital is unclear.

Hassell said Richardson is acting CEO, however Brown said, “Phillips is clearly in charge.”

Quorum’s contract is not scheduled to expire until 2009 and both Brown and Hassell hinted that there were still issues left unsettled between the two groups, other than official contract termination, to be settled before Quorum would sever ties with the hospital.

Neither Brown or Hassell would say exactly what still needed to be resolved between the two groups.

Brown did say the two groups were working toward an agreement that would leave both groups satisfied and subsequently run only by Healthcare Management Partners.

That deal is set to be discussed as early as Monday, Brown said.

Months ago, when NRMC’s financial problems were realized, the hospital’s board members decided to cancel their contract with Quorum.

Neither Richardson on Phillips could be reached for comment.