Judge denies motion of pair wanting to re-open hospital

Published 3:46 pm Friday, July 26, 2013

A ruling from a Thursday court hearing left two men wanting to purchase and re-open Chilton Medical Center unsure of what their next step could be—if there is a next step.

Billy McKenzie and Joel Burdette met with Chilton County residents on July 11 to talk about their effort and solicit support, but Circuit Court Judge John Bush denied a motion filed on behalf of the pair seeking to intervene in an ongoing lawsuit.

Bush’s ruling, in effect, also rebuffed McKenzie’s and Burdette’s related motions to have the hospital’s Certificate of Need either transferred to them or terminated.

“It’s unfortunate,” Burdette said Friday.

The CON is set to expire in October. When it does, anyone could apply for a new CON, which is a state-issued permit to operate a health care facility.

Burdette said he was unsure whether he and McKenzie would revisit their effort later in the year.

“I can’t speculate that far out on what will happen,” he said.

Most of Thursday’s hearing focused on other issues related to Chilton Medical Center.

The operation has been in a court-ordered receivership under the direction of Don Ball, who has worked to liquidate assets and pay off debt to the extent possible.

For example, representatives from hospital equipment company ERX were present at the hearing because of their claim of about $200,000. Also, the IRS has placed a lien on the hospital property of more than $600,000 for unpaid payroll taxes.

The hospital doesn’t have enough funds to pay all its creditors. Bush ordered the receiver to pay the existing money to the court, and then Bush would make a decision about who could be paid and how much they receive.

Sibley Reynolds with the Chilton County Hospital Board said the transfer of the funds to the court would also release the board from any liability related to the operation’s debts.

The Hospital Board is working with St. Vincent’s Health System to build a new hospital in Chilton County, but the board’s initial focus was re-opening CMC and it filed the original lawsuit.

Another issue yet to be resolved is the maintenance of medical records. Reynolds said Bush would likely devote some of the money that comes in from the receiver to storing the records and having someone available to pull records as needed.