Leaders need to answer Natchez Regional bankruptcy questions

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 5, 2014

For centuries, physicians have followed basic tenets of medicine, one of which is the vow to seek first and foremost to do no harm to the patient.

We only wish the same were true for the people charged with leading county-owned Natchez Regional Medical Center.

Were the stakes not so serious, the potential collateral damage if the hospital were to close outright not so utterly devastating, Tuesday’s latest news from the hospital might be laughable.

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Instead, the news that the hospital expects to file for bankruptcy is sad.

It’s sad for the employees of the hospital, sad for the hospital’s creditors and, most important, sad for the hospital’s owners — the people of Adams County.

Tuesday’s announcement is the latest tiny drop of information being spoon fed to the public about the hospital by a select few who know, or should know, the true financial shape of the hospital.

For months, we’ve begged hospital officials to let the public know the true shape of the hospital. We’ve begged county supervisors to do the same.

Now, months and months after yet another thus-far failed attempt to sell the hospital, the hospital must throw itself on the mercy of a bankruptcy court.

A little over a year ago, the hospital received an amazing gift in the form of a large settlement after it sued a former management company for mismanagement.

Though never publicly disclosed, the amount was privately said to be approximately $15 million.

Tuesday’s bankruptcy seems to indicate all — or nearly all — of that settlement was squandered to the tune of approximately $1 million each month, if the whispers of $15 million are accurate.

The entire hospital board, CEOs (past and present) and the board attorney should come forward and publicly explain how on earth the organization was allowed to operate at such catastrophic losses without ever officially alerting the public owners before irreparable harm was done.