Hutcheson Says It Will Vigorously Defend Erlanger Lawsuit

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Hutcheson Medical Center and its boards of directors announced the hospital will vigorously defend a lawsuit filed last week by Erlanger Health System and "will remain focused on rebuilding a thriving north Georgia community medical center."

Hutcheson officials said, "The damages we have sustained due to Erlanger’s breach of a management agreement far exceed the amount of any line of credit or other debt owed by Hutcheson to Erlanger."

Hospital and county officials "noted that the successes realized by Hutcheson while rebuilding the hospital in recent years are attributable to the work of the hospital staff rather than Erlanger’s management. The hospital’s self-generated successes are among the reasons officials said they announced in November that Hutcheson would remain independently operated following the conclusion of its contract with Erlanger earlier in the year. The decision came after the medical center tried unsuccessfully to find a new management partner committed to ensuring Hutcheson remains a comprehensive hospital with the services necessary to support the communities of Walker, Catoosa and Dade counties, including general surgery, pulmonology, gastroenterology and orthopedics."

Hutcheson officials said the North Georgia community "is an attractive market for regional hospitals, and while Erlanger expressed interest in investing in the community, few were made. Instead, they say, Erlanger sought to transfer patients out of North Georgia to its main hospital in Chattanooga. Erlanger failed to address the needs of the citizens of the tri-county or Hutcheson. Officials noted that Hutcheson’s debt rose under Erlanger’s management and in the first year of the hospital’s contract alone, the hospital’s admissions dropped by the same margin Erlanger’s Walker and Catoosa County admissions rose.

"In just a few months of independent operation, Hutcheson launched initiatives to add state-of-the art technology, including a new CT scanner and two outpatient GI suites at Hutcheson on the Parkway, grow the number of outpatient clinics and expand operating hours for better community convenience. Meanwhile, hospital leaders are working to find solutions to the debt challenges, which grew under Erlanger’s management, so that Hutcheson can remain fiscally strong and operate independently."

Corky Jewell, chairman of the Hutcheson Medical Center board of directors, said, “In spite of the challenges created by past administrations and Erlanger’s management, we remain confident that we have the partners and resources to turn the corner and make this hospital the thriving community healthcare institution it used to be.”

According to Walker County attorney Don Oliver, Walker County and Region’s Bank are providing support of the hospital’s ongoing financial needs. He said, “We are surprised and disappointed that Erlanger’s leaders filed this lawsuit in an attempt to distract attention away from their own financial problems. We were working with Erlanger officials last week to discuss a mutual settlement of claims – at a meeting Erlanger requested – while they were covertly drafting a lawsuit. ”

Attorney Chad Young, who represents Catoosa County, said, “Catoosa County has been and remains supportive of Hutcheson and remains unified with Hutcheson and Walker County in the defense of any litigation filed by Erlanger and the pursuit of any claims or counterclaims on behalf of Hutcheson against Erlanger for its breaches of the Management Agreement.”

Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report from Hamilton County: AARON, BRANDON LEE  1623 PERIGMORE EAST RIDGE, 37343  Age at Arrest: 18 years old Arresting Agency: Hamilton County Booked for Previous Charges or Other Reason(s) --- ARNOLD, GREGORY ANDREW  1612 JOINER RD CHATTANOOGA, 37421  Age at Arrest: 26 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank ... (click for more)

Missing HCSO K-9 Located Safe And Sound

A missing Hamilton County Sheriff’s Office K-9 was found safe and sound on Thursday. It was noted by deputies, that she was very anxious to get back to her handler and family.  K-9 Deputy Kada, a 50-pound, female Dutch Shepherd went missing late Thursday afternoon from her handler's residence in East Ridge. It is believed she may have traveled as far as the Belvoir or Marlboro, ... (click for more)

Regulations As A Whole On Signal Mountain

A few years ago I was flying over Chattanooga on my way to Atlanta.  The sun had just come up and I enjoyed picking out Signal Mountain’s location, on Walden’s Ridge, in the morning light.  What was amazing was that I could not tell that a town existed under the tree canopy.  I hope that the same can be said 10, 20, or even 50 years from now.  During last ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: We Must Learn To Tell

On July 4th of this year, FBI agents – acting on a tip -- arrested Alexander Ciccolo, a 23-year-old with known mental problems, as he carried a duffel bag full of automatic-attack weapons. Moments before, he had bought the illegal firearms from an undercover informant outside of Boston. As agents later scoured his apartment, they found bomb-making equipment including a pressure ... (click for more)

Healthy Silverdale Takes Down Grace For 5-1A Volleyball Title

With season-long injuries healed and a full contingent of players available, Silverdale Baptist Academy completed a run for the District 5-1A volleyball tournament championship by sweeping Grace Baptist Academy, 3-0, on Thursday. The game scores were 25-22, 25-20 and 25-18. The host Lady Seahawks advance to the Region 3-1A tournament on Monday at Sale Creek and will play ... (click for more)

Signal Mountain Wins 7-AA Volleyball Over Notre Dame

Notre Dame and Signal Mountain seem to bring out the best in each other, at least when the sport is volleyball. These were the top two teams in District 7-AA this fall.  Signal got the top seed based on its 3-0 win at Notre Dame after the Lady Irish had taken a 3-1 match at Signal early in the season. But with all the chips on the line for the 7-AA tournament championship, ... (click for more)