Erlanger Calls Claims By Former Governor Barnes For Hutcheson "Silly, Ludicrous, And Absurd"

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Erlanger Health System officials on Saturday called claims by former Georgia Governor Roy Barnes for Hutcheson Hospital "silly, ludicrous, and absurd."

Erlanger officials said its help saved the Fort Oglethorpe hospital from going under.

Officials said, "Here are the facts in response to the silly letter drafted by Roy Barnes seeking $113 million from Erlanger.

"At the time Erlanger entered into the Management Agreement, Hutcheson had exhausted $30 million in reserves, it had $25 million in bonded debt, and was accumulating monthly losses in excess of $1.5 million, had not issued audited financial statements for multiple years, and had accumulated over $10 million in debts to vendors – a number of whom were demanding payment to continue supplying Hutcheson.

"In addition to this bleak financial picture, Hutcheson and its previous leadership had run up a debt over $12 million to Medicare at 11% interest. As a result, Medicare stopped paying Hutcheson for the services it provided, leaving Hutcheson with limited cash flow. The $20 million loan to Hutcheson from Erlanger was largely to fund the operations since Hutcheson was no longer receiving payments from Medicare.

"Without a business partner, Hutcheson would have had to file for bankruptcy protection or closed its doors. This would have resulted in the loss of hundreds of jobs, patients going without care, and North Georgia residents no longer having a community hospital.

"Here’s what the community needs to know with regards to Mr. Barnes ludicrous demands for $113 million and some of the significant contributions made by Erlanger.

  • Erlanger successfully managed Hutcheson since assuming responsibilities in 2011. Erlanger’s turnaround efforts were repeatedly and publicly recognized by Hutcheson’s board of directors, officials of Catoosa, Walker and Dade Counties, and often cited by local and regional media outlets, including the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
  • It is clearly evident that Mr. Barnes, along with Hutcheson’s Boards and County officials continue to have a complete misunderstanding as to the terms of the Management Agreement. Erlanger, without exception, met each of its obligations to Hutcheson under the Management Agreement.
  • Hutcheson’s Board declined to approve many of Erlanger’s recommendations to save the hospital during its management of Hutcheson. As disappointing as that was, Erlanger continued to remain dedicated to turning around Hutcheson, including a response to Hutcheson’s RFP.
  • Erlanger has always provided care to North Georgia residents, regardless of their ability to pay. Those services range from emergency services and trauma care to surgical services and less acute outpatient care. These services have been provided at no cost to North Georgia counties and those receiving care.
  • Erlanger named Roger Forgey as Hutcheson CEO, with the blessings of Hutcheson’s board. Mr. Forgey is a seasoned healthcare executive with strong ties to the North Georgia region, very familiar with the strategic healthcare needs of this community.
  • Two of Erlanger’s leading primary care physicians, Drs. Chris Haddock and Chip Harris, have a long-established medical practice in Ringgold, Ga. at Erlanger South Family Medicine. Dr. Haddock has repeatedly been named “Best Family Doctor” in North Georgia in the annual Times Free Press readership poll. Both physicians are actively involved in this community, and have been supporters of the mission and values of Hutcheson for more than a decade.
  • Dr. L. Kendrick Mills, a well-respected cardiologist, graduate of Harvard Medical School, and specialist in cardiology, interventional cardiology and echocardiography, was brought to Hutcheson by Erlanger.
  • Erlanger made vast improvements to these and other key clinical programs at Hutcheson:
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Surgical Services
  • Hospitalist Program
  • Orthopedics
  • G.I. Services
  • Nephrology Services
  • Cardiology
  • Primary Care Medicine

"Despite Mr. Barnes absurd 'tally of 23 itemized failures, injuries and damages that Erlanger inflicted on Hutcheson under the management agreement,' Hutcheson’s boards never once followed the management agreement’s process to address any of those now alleged 'failures, injuries and damages.'”

"Against all odds, Erlanger was able to overcome the dire situation Hutcheson faced. Not only did Erlanger improve key clinical programs, it moved Hutcheson to a profitable organization, saving hundreds of jobs in the North Georgia community. Based on these facts, it is very evident the $113 million demanded by Mr. Barnes is silly, ludicrous, and absurd."


Latest Hamilton County Jail Booking Report

Here is the latest jail booking report for Hamilton County: ALFADO, JOSE  CHATTANOOGA, 37402  Age at Arrest: 23 years old Arresting Agency: Red Bank AGGRAVATED ASSAULT --- AUSTIN, SHEILA MARIE  5212 DONLYN LANE APT B HIXSON, 373434555  Age at Arrest: 39 years old Arresting Agency: Chattanooga DOMESTIC ASSAULT --- BERRY, KAYLA NICOLE  ... (click for more)

County Commission Passes Resolution That Will Put Commissioner On CVB Board; Have Visitors Bureau Follow County Purchasing, Travel, Expense Policies

The County Commission voted 6-3 on Wednesday to approve a resolution that will put a member of the commission on the board of the Chattanooga Visitors Bureau. It will also require the CVB to follow county purchasing, travel and expense policies. The measure requires that the agency annually submit copies of all financial documents and records relating to its income and expense. ... (click for more)

Tom Edd Wilson Was A Great Visionary

We want to add to the many heart-felt messages that have been expressed regarding the recent passing of Tom Edd Wilson, a truly great visionary.    While he made his mark on many local organizations, Tom Edd will always hold a special place in the hearts of those who worked closely with him at Erlanger.   We benefited greatly from his steady guidance, leadership ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Leaders Stand ‘Way Back’

Franklin McCallie, a former principal at Howard School and the maverick in one of Chattanooga’s finest families known for education, delivered an impassioned speech before the Hamilton County Commission on Wednesday. Sadly, his remarks came after the commissioners had passed the FY2018 budget that has no financial methodology for the Department of Education, much maligned in the ... (click for more)

Rain Washes Away Tuesday Night's 2017 Southern League All-Star Game

Heavy rains from tropical storm Cindy forced the cancellation of the 2017 Southern League All-Star Game in Pensacola, Florida Tuesday night. The Lookouts were represented on the North Division squad by pitchers Fernando Romero, Mason Melotakis (though he was promoted to Rochester this week), and John Curtiss; and position players Nick Gordon, Edgar Corcino, and LaMonte Wade. ... (click for more)

PHOTOS: CFC Wins Big Over Birmingham