Tri-Cities Healthcare Debacle
by Lewis Loflin
Healthcare was slated as one of the few bright spots in the Tri-Cities Virginia Tennessee region, but Obamacare may bring that crashing down. Yet our two regional hospital chains, Wellmont Health Systems and Mountain States Health Alliance are throwing fits in 2014. They ghave spent years over expanding and buying up every little community hospital only to find the government funding they are hoping to tap into isn't going to be there.
They knew this was coming but ignored the signs. See Congressman Boucher's Town Hall 2009. I warned this was coming - we must development a real private sector economy that's not held hostage to government spending.
Proposed cancer treatment center clears zoning hurdle
"BRISTOL, Va. — A proposed cancer treatment center cleared a major hurdle Tuesday, as city leaders granted an exception to zoning regulations. The City Council unanimously approved a special exception to allow Wellmont Health System to construct a nearly 14,000-square-foot chemotherapy infusion center at 337 Island Road." Yet Wellmont recently shuttered their Lee County Hospital after spending, according to my brother that lives over there, $3 million to upgrade the emergency room.
On WCYB in January 2014 reported they were in big trouble and looking for a partner. They built a lot of expensive facilities hoping to milk Medicare to pay for it - or perhaps to meet Medicare qualifications. That all fell through with Obamacare - hospitals are being starved as funds are shifted to Medicaid - a nororious under payer of medical bills in this region. The press claims they lost $70 million in unpaid bills in 2013.
Why are these idiots opening another facility? We need affordable basic services - not high-priced centers such as this the region economically can't support.
Ref. www.tricities.com January 14, 2014
MSHA to cut 161 jobs, including 18 positions at three SWVa. hospitals
Eighteen hospital positions will be lost in Mountain States Health Alliance's Southwest Virginia hospitals, part of 161 jobs cut across the health care system announced Wednesday. "Significant reimbursement cuts and volume declines associated with federal health care reform" are blamed for the cuts, which were announced in a written statement...Six currently filled positions at Johnston Memorial Hospital, seven at Smyth County Community Hospital and five at Norton Community Hospital are affected...
In total, 116 filled jobs were cut and 45 currently empty slots will be eliminated. About 9,000 people are employed by the system.
Ref. www.tricities.com January 15, 2014
- Growth Industry in Tri-Cities
- Note the following reports require Acrobat reader:
- Washington County Virginia Community Profile
- Smyth County Virginia Community Profile
300 workers fired from local healthcare industries
KINGSPORT - An ongoing financial review of Wellmont Health System has found "erroneous" accounting entries from 2006 to 2008 but none that involved theft, personal gain or government contracts. To quote the press,
"During the extensive review which included interviews with dozens of past and present Wellmont employees and review of several hundred accounting entries, neither Wellmont nor its independent legal counsel found any evidence of theft or personal gain associated with the erroneous entries Furthermore, the erroneous entries did not involve any payments received or owing to government contracts or payors, and they do not present any regulatory issues for Wellmont."
But the audits also found a "significant decline in liquidity, with days cash on hand dropping approximately 48 percent since June 2007; operating losses through the first five months of fiscal 2009; and the departures of the CEO and CFO." Wellmont and its chief competitor, Johnson City-based Mountain States Health Alliance, Jan. 16 (2009) announced a series of cost-cutting measures because of the downturn in the economy.
MSHA announced the elimination of 109 positions, representing 1.4 percent of its work force of 7,863 people. For Wellmont, changes included elimination of 86 jobs and a reduction in corporate and administrative expenses at Wellmont. Another 60 positions that are now vacant will not be filled. The 86 jobs are just more than 1 percent of Wellmont's work force of 6,900 people in the region. And a new patient tower at Holston Valley Medical Center, part of the $100 million Project Platinum renovation, has been delayed. Ref. Kingsport Times-News January 28, 2009.
The report didn't include the closing of the Wellmont Fitness Center on State Street in Bristol. All together we are losing almost 300 jobs in an industry (one of the few outside government in the region) that has grown for years. What's next?
Wellmont Wellness Center to Close
The Bristol Family YMCA will take over operation of the Wellmont Wellness Center after three years of discussions between the YMCA and Bristol Regional Medical Center. "This allows the YMCA to build on its vision to improve the overall health and fitness of the Bristol community." (Now they have a monopoly.) Beginning March 3, YMCA personnel will staff and manage the Wellness Center, located at 2000 West State St. in Bristol, Tenn...
To quote the press, "Wellness Center members will have full access to all YMCA facilities and programs, and YMCA members will have the added benefit of being able to use the Wellness Center, Ayers explains. The Wellness Center facility will close for a few days in early March to allow for the managerial transition, and it will reopen to all current Wellness Center and YMCA members March 9... All existing Wellness Center memberships will be honored under the YMCA management structure. Under the management transition plan, the YMCA will lease the Wellness Center from Bristol Regional Medical Center at the rate of $1 per year..." Ref BHC January 23, 2009.
What the press failed to mention: The dirty part about this is the members of the Wellness Center were never told about this even as they kept accepting new memberships up until the announcement. They knew very well many had left the YMCA because it has become a daycare for people to dump their kids. This is an adult center, not a kinder garden. The pools are often over-crowded and the renovations (with more planned) have created chaos. The entire staff will be fired (at the Wellness Center) in addition to over 150 other job losses at Wellmont.
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