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Discussions still underway on sale of Garrard hospital

August 06, 2003|PHIL PENDLETON

LANCASTER - Hospital officials in Garrard County say they are still in discussions with Ephraim McDowell Health toward a possible purchase of the hospital and long-term care facility's assets.

During a joint meeting Tuesday between the hospital and Long Term Care Facility boards, officials said they have not yet decided their course of action.

"Discussions are still under way with Ephraim McDowell," said hospital board Chairman Leonard Smith. "We haven't sat on our behinds. But it just takes time."

Smith said he expects to report something "up or down" next week. Garrard County Fiscal Court meets Tuesday, and hospital officials indicated they may have something to present then.

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Chairman of the Long Term Care Facility board Ed Montgomery asked board members and news media present at Tuesday's meeting not to speculate on what will take place over the next several days.

"I cannot emphasize how sensitive this is within the next 96 hours," said Montgomery.

Mary Begley with Ephraim McDowell acknowledged that discussions are still under way with both the Garrard hospital and the Long Term Care Facility, but that "as we bring this through due diligence, the situation has become more complex."

"We are at a critical time when some extremely difficult decisions must be made," Begley said.

"The Garrard County board chairs, H.E. Montgomery and Leonard W. Smith, as well as the staff at Garrard County have done an outstanding job of making information available to us," said L. Clark Taylor, chief executive officer of Ephraim McDowell Health. "If we aren't able to come to an agreement with Garrard County, it isn't because there hasn't been a great effort on their part," Taylor said.

Financial troubles continue

As the discussions with McDowell continue, Garrard officials said their financial troubles continue.

Chief Financial Officer Loretta Rinthen said the Long Term Care Facility lost approximately $74,000 and that the hospital lost $67,936 in June.

Rinthen said revenues are down and fewer people are coming to the hospital. She said cash flow is very tight.

Rinthen said Medicaid is no longer paying what Medicare did not cover. For example, if Medicare would pay 80 percent of a patient's bill, Medicaid used to take care of the remaining 20 percent, she said.

"What Medicare doesn't pay for now, we are forced to write off," she said.

Meanwhile, Garrard has filed an answer to a lawsuit pending against the hospital.

Smith told members of both boards that an answer and a motion to the EnduraCare lawsuit was filed on Friday.

EnduraCare provided physical therapy services for the hospital, and EnduraCare Therapy Management Services Inc. filed a lawsuit seeking more than $200,000 in unpaid bills.

The motion filed on behalf of Garrard County Memorial Hospital by Lexington attorney William A. Bausch says a review of records of the Kentucky Secretary of State reveals no corporation by the EnduraCare Therapy Management Inc. name, either foreign or domestic, exists.

It says while a corporation by the name Enduracare LLC exists in Texas, it is not "in good standing." It says the Delaware company Enduracare Therapy Management has no assumed names filed in Kentucky.

A hearing for the suit is scheduled Aug. 15 in Garrard Circuit Court.

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