Hearing to revoke Chilton Medical’s license cancelled

Published 4:54 pm Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Chilton Medical Center officials will not have to go before the Alabama Department of Public Health on Thursday as planned because of developments related to the hospital’s ownership.

Ted Chapin, CMC executive director, said Thursday’s meeting may not be rescheduled.

“There are some positive things unfolding behind the scenes, and we may not have to get to that point,” Chapin said. “We’ve developed a real good relationship with the folks at the state, and if we can continue down the road we’re on, we may not have to have that hearing at all. I think we’re going to weather the storm.”

Chilton Medical’s license to operate was suspended, effectively shutting down the facility, on Oct. 29 through an emergency order by state Health Officer Dr. Don Williamson, who said it was the first time in his 20 years in the position that he had taken such action.

“It became clear to our investigators that they had insufficient funds to cover their (payroll) checks that they were going to issue,” Williamson told The Clanton Advertiser at the time. “We could no longer be certain that they were going to have staff coverage for the patients that were currently hospitalized or those that were going to be hospitalized. We couldn’t allow them to continue to admit patients who would have an expectation of care or to be admitted and not get the care they need.”

At the time of the closing, the hearing was scheduled as a final opportunity for hospital officials to present a plan to the state showing the hospital could become financially viable and continue to provide safe patient care.

Officials said then that it would likely take a significant development–such as a change in ownership–for Chilton Medical Center to avoid permanent closure.

But according to a press release Wednesday, “Alabama Department of Public Health and the entity holding the license to operate the hospital–Clanton, LLC–have settled this matter by way of a consent agreement. The hospital will remain closed at this time, but its license will remain effective until Dec. 21, to allow another person or entity to submit an application for licensure to operate the hospital.”

Brian Hale, legal counsel with the state Department of Public Health, said the application process is necessary any time there is a change of ownership at a health care facility.

The license to operate CMC was granted to Clanton Hospital, LLC, which is a subsidiary of Carraway Medical Systems, Inc. Clanton Hospital leases the hospital facility from Central Alabama Medical Associates, LLC, a subsidiary of Sunlink Health Systems, Inc.

CAMA held an ownership interest in Clanton Hospital at one time but divested itself of its interest in March 2011.

Chapin said more information about the hospital’s future would be forthcoming.

“I just don’t know who or when right now,” he said about the hospital’s ownership. “The next step is to get the hospital open as soon as possible.”