Williamson Memorial Hospital is celebrating its 100th year of service to Mingo County and Tug Valley residents. However, what should be a year of celebration is becoming one of bad news for the facility. This week the hospital filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy.
All of the hospital’s 157 employees have been notified of the bankruptcy and of the possibility that the hospital could permanently close resulting in the loss of their jobs. Also, as part of the filing, the hospital has hired a new interim chief executive officer, Gene Preston, CPA. He replaces former CEO Charlie Hatfield, who is an investor and partner in Mingo Health Partners which owns the hospital. Hatfield’s last day was last Friday with Preston taking over on Monday, Oct. 21 – the same day the Chapter 11 documents were filed with the court.
“It is a normal part of the process to change management when a bankruptcy is filed,” Preston said.
Preston was unable to elaborate on any plans the hospital has for the future.
“We will basically be blocking and tackling and taking care of our patients,” Preston said. “I just hit the ground Monday and am still assessing the situation. We will take things one day at a time.”
The WARN letter to the hospital staff reads in part:
“This is to advise you that Williamson Memorial Hospital may permanently close its hospital facility. If this occurs, the exact date of the closing is unknown at this time but should take place approximately on or before Dec. 21 ... Current ownership is using its best efforts to restructure the debt through Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and keep the hospital operating under new management or find a new owner that will have the resources to keep the hospital open into the future.”
Mingo Health Partners LLC filed documents Monday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia indicating the hospital has become financially insolvent and seeks protection under Chapter 11 bankruptcy guidelines. If granted, the Chapter 11 status will give the hospital an opportunity to reorganize its finances and create a plan to pay its debts.
The documents were signed by Sam Kapourales, a member of Mingo Health Partners, on behalf of Williamson Memorial Hospital.
The bankruptcy petition indicates the hospital owes 50 to 99 creditors an amount ranging between $1 million and $10 million. The document also lists the hospital’s total assets within that same monetary range as well.
The largest creditor the hospital has according to court records is to Community Healthcare Systems of Franklin, Tennessee. CHS is the company from which Mingo Health Partners purchased the hospital. The amount of that debt is $651,124. CHS is followed by Ohio Valley Physicians, a group which provides emergency room doctors for the hospital, in the amount of $468,054.
In recent weeks, Mingo Health Partners and Williamson Memorial Hospital have been served with two lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Former CEO Stacey Markus filed one of the legal actions in conjunction with her termination as CEO. The second lawsuit was brought by Hospital Management Associates, CHSPSC and Physician Practice Support which claims WMH owes them more than $800,000 from purchase agreements made with them as part of the partnership buying the hospital.
Mingo Health Partners took over the management of the 76 bed facility June 1, 2018, and held a re-grand opening for the facility last October. The group is composed of Hatfield, Kapourales and former State Del. Doug Reynolds.