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."


Beer License Approved For Pops On The River; Soft-Spoken Applicant To Try Rossville Boulevard Bar

Pops on the River, the annual Fourth of July concert by the Chattanooga Symphony Orchestra, will have food and beverages, including beer, available at Coolidge Park. The City Beer Board Thursday morning issued a special event permit to sell beer at the concert Saturday night.   This year the lineup for the evening is different than in the past when only the CSO ... (click for more)

Keith Parker Arrested For Stealing Computer, Military Dog Tags And Patches

Keith Franklin Parker, 34, was arrested Tuesday for aggravated burglary after he allegedly broke into a man’s house and stole a desktop computer as well as the victim’s military dog tags and various military patches. Officers responded to a call about a burglary on 18th Avenue on June 24, where the victim’s sister stated that her brother’s home had been broken into in ... (click for more)

Police Need To Stop The Road Cowboys - And Response (2)

Where is our highway patrol?  If they were known to regularly patrol our interstate highways through our city I don't think it would take long before the "truckers" were aware of it.  There are places in our country where this is the case.   When I have traveled Interstates 24 and 75 I may see the occasional car pulled over but rarely if ever is it an 18-wheeler. ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: Never Disturb The Dead

I’ve got too many things in my life that scare me so I’ve always been real leery of “unnecessary fear.” A guy named Terry wanted to teach me how to catch a live rattlesnake one time but had a tough time telling me what exactly to do with the angry serpent when the time came to let it go. I have the same view of these paranormal societies where otherwise sane people go around looking ... (click for more)

Tickets Sell Out In 1 Day For U.S. Women’s National Team Soccer Match At Finley Stadium

Tickets sold out in one day for the U.S. Women’s National Team’s match against Costa Rica at Finley Stadium.  There will be over 20,000 fans in attendance on Wednesday, Aug. 19, at 6:30 p.m. The match will be on ESPN2. Officials said it is just the fourth sellout in the history of the 18-year-old stadium. It sold out faster than the prior three sellouts. ... (click for more)

Chattanooga FC Playing For Division Championship Saturday

The Chattanooga Football Club final home game will be played this Saturday.    With a 4-2 win over the Knoxville Force, Chattanooga controls its own destiny for a 1st place division finish when it faces off against that Nashville FC this Saturday, July 4 at Finley Stadium.  A win secures the division championship for the CFC with a home-field advantage for the ... (click for more)