Quorum headed out at NRMC soon

Published 12:00 am Saturday, May 3, 2008

NATCHEZ — The days of dual management at Natchez Regional Medical Center are about to come to an end.

For the past few weeks two management companies, Quorum Health Resources and Healthcare Management Partners, have been showing up each day to run the hospital.

But that should change come May 10, Quorum’s Vice President of marketing and corporate communications Susan Hassell said.

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“Unfortunately, because the hospital has not kept its financial obligations to our company for more than three months, we have now notified the board they are in breach of our contract due to non-payment. Without remedy of the breach of contract, the contract will terminate effective May 10.”

Hospital board attorney Walter Brown said the hospital has received the notification.

But the possibility of separation comes as good news to Dan Bland, NRMC’s board of trustees chairman.

“That’s wonderful,” he said.

Hospital board members voted months ago to terminate its contract with Quorum, first hired in 1992, but Quorum has refused to leave the hospital.

Until May 10 Hassell said Quorum will continue to fulfill its contract with the hospital.

Brown said the hospital has not paid any money to Quorum since January.

Recently Quorum and the hospital board have been attempting to come to monetary settlement that would leave both sides satisfied and allow Quorum to leave the hospital Brown said.

Quorum will be using its nonpayment as a way to cut their ties with the hospital, without breach of contract, and still retain the option of litigation Brown said.

The two entities are essentially separated on how much money each group would get from the other in the split Brown said.

Brown said he could not discuss the terms of those discussions because doing so could jeopardize future litigation for both groups.

Brown said a settlement, outside of litigation, would be “an advantage to both.”

Hassell said she was unaware of any preparations for litigation on Quorum’s behalf.

Quorum repeatedly said they have never formally received notification of the hospital’s desire to terminate their contract, however Brown said it was provided on more that one occasion in March.

Since early April when the hospital board hired its newest management company, Healthcare Management Partners, Quorum has continued to send their interim CEO and CFO to work at the hospital.

Earlier this week the two administrators were removed from the hospital premises and relocated to an adjoining office building near the hospital.

Both Brown and Hassell have described the management situation at the hospital as unusual.