Natchez Regional questions remain

Published 12:27 am Monday, October 6, 2014

With the sale of Natchez Regional Medical Center to Community Health Services now official, we can only hope for the best for our beleaguered hospital, going forward under new ownership. From newspaper reports this week, early indications appear positive, and we certainly hope for continued positive news about the transition.

The structure of the transaction itself, though will not allow for NRMC to fade quietly into the history books. It will be years before the bankruptcy estate is completely settled, and some unsecured creditors see how much, if any, of their debts will be paid.

But alas, we are now out of the hospital business, which was the ultimate goal of the officials in charge the whole time. We are not quite sure yet how much the final bill to get us out of the hospital business will be.

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The finger pointing concerning NRMC’s demise has already begun. In a newspaper article last week, Board of Supervisors attorney Scott Slover put forth the idea of Adams County filing a lawsuit against the former NRMC Board of Trustees.

There will no doubt be numerous reasons put forth for the demise of NRMC. Some people will allege poor management decisions, bordering on stupidity. Some people will allege actual malfeasance, since there are now questions concerning retirement and insurance payments withheld from employees’ checks. Another item, which many now feel must have played a part is good old “Gordon Gecko” styled greed. For those who don’t know, Gordon Gecko was a character from a movie named “Wall Street”, who famously proclaimed in one of his take-over battles that “Greed is good!”

The greed factor related to NRMC’s demise has been brought to the forefront recently with the revelations concerning the amount of fees paid to consultants and attorneys, as NRMC struggled to make it to the finish line, and complete the sale to CHS.

Even bankruptcy Judge Olack noted that he never would have imagined that the fees paid to consultants and attorneys could have been as high as they are in this case. But he deemed that at this point, he had no other choice but to ratify the sale.

Most disturbing to me, was the recent revelation that Board of Trustees’ attorney Walter Brown, actually increased the rate that he was charging for his services to NRMC during the bankruptcy. You may recall that in my last letter on this subject, I put forth that I had heard a rumor to this effect, and asked the Board of Trustees directly for an answer as to whether or not that rumor was true?

Well I got my answer directly from a board member, who stated that Brown simply increased his rate on his invoice, and a check was written to pay the invoice at the higher rate. The matter was never brought before the Board of Trustees for discussion or a vote prior to the check being written.

It has now been mentioned that Brown may have returned a portion the fees he has collected, and possibly done some recent work for which he did not or will not bill for his time. I am sorry Brown, but in my opinion that is too little, too late, and akin to the child caught with his hand in the cookie jar. Given what the employees of NRMC have endured during the same time frame, you should be ashamed of yourself for raising the rate you charged for your services.

It also begs the question just who wrote that check to pay Brown’s higher rate, without authority from the trustees? Just one more question to add to our lengthy list of unanswered questions in this matter.


Chuck Fields

Adams County resident