NRMC doesn’t declare bankruptcy

Published 12:00 am Thursday, February 5, 2009

NATCHEZ — Going against their previous plan, officials did not declare bankruptcy on Monday.

While Feb. 2 had been designated as declaration day, hospital CEO Scott Phillips said a phone call late last week from the Mississippi Development Bank’s executive director halted the process.

Phillips said the call from the director was to request a briefing on the bankruptcy process for the MDB board and credit committee.

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“And well do that,” Phillips said. “We’re happy to.”

Now, bankruptcy won’t be declared for another week.

The MDB is currently the bondholder for the hospital’s $18 million bond.

But once the hospital is sold, it will no longer be a public property, and the MDB will have no involvement with the facility.

Phillips said the meeting with the MDB board was essentially a “professional courtesy.”

“This is the hospital’s last involvement with the (MDB,) not the county’s,” he said.

Hospital attorney Walter Brown said the MDB plays an important role in helping counties borrow money.

Brown said since he’s sure the county and city will both be going to the MDB to borrow money in the future, the hospital is willing to meet.

And Phillips said while the hospital is moving forward on plans to file for bankruptcy the hospital is not bankrupt.

At a recent meeting with hospital staff, Phillips told employees the hospital is now in the best financial condition it has been in for two years.

Instead, the hospital is using the benefits of bankruptcy, like the ability to restructure debts and contracts, to make the hospital a more attractive package to a buyer.

And this meeting with the MDB board, scheduled for next Wednesday, won’t change any of the hospital’s plans.

Phillips said one week from today, he’ll be in Jackson filing the paper work to make the hospital’s bankruptcy official.

And that bankruptcy is just a small piece of Phillips’ plan to sell the hospital.

But for now there’s still no timeline to have the sale completed.

“We’re still on track,” Phillips said. “It’s proceeding.”

Phillips said the involved parties are still in talks and making progress on negotiations.

“We’re letting it play out,” he said.