Attorney to act as ‘eyes, ears’ for county in NRMC bankruptcy oversight commission

Published 12:11 am Tuesday, October 21, 2014

NATCHEZ — The Adams County Board of Supervisors appointed Monday a representative to look after its interests as Natchez Regional Medical Center’s bankruptcy plan is dispersed.

The board appointed Jack Lazarus, the bankruptcy attorney who represented the county during the bankruptcy court proceedings, to the bankruptcy’s liquidating trust oversight committee.

The three-person committee will include the court appointed trustee, Lazarus and an as-of-yet-unnamed person to represent the formerly county-owned hospital’s unsecured creditors, Slover said.

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The court appointed trustee is Kenneth Lefoldt Jr. of Ridgeland, a certified public accountant with previous experience handling bankruptcy estates.

Lazarus said Lefoldt will handle the actual administration of the liquidation trust, but the other committee members will serve as the eyes and ears for their constituents.

“We will be reviewing the claims and the disbursement of funds as those claims are paid,” he said.

“The committee will be those who either accept or reject the processes as they come along.”

In addition to disbursing the hospital’s final months of accounts receivable to creditors, the bankruptcy estate is also pursuing a claim in the BP settlement, claims of overcharging by University Medical Center and claims against professionals in an effort to recoup funds, Lazarus said.

The county’s top priorities in the recovery of funds are recovering unpaid Public Employee Retirement System and insurance payments and recouping the cost of a $3 million loan taken out to cover closing costs of the hospital bankruptcy sale, he said.

“I am going to be the eyes and ears of the Adams County Board of Supervisors at those meetings, and am going to advise them of what has gone on and get my marching orders from the board,” Lazarus said. “If we can honestly, legally and ethically get these people paid, that is my job.”

The county board has also  reserved the right to sue the hospital’s former board of trustees and officers in order to recoup funds. Representatives of the former trustees have said the suit would be covered by an insurance policy.

Slover said Monday the supervisors have discussed the issue broadly, but declined to comment directly about the conversations in order to protect the county’s strategic position.

NRMC was sold Oct. 1 to Community Health Systems, the parent company of Natchez Community Hospital. CHS replaced NRMC’s administration and has announced plans to eventually merge the two facilities.

The sale was a key provision of the hospital’s bankruptcy, which was filed in March.