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UCMH vendors threaten lawsuit, board seeks $1.5 million line of credit

Unicoi County Memorial Hospital Board of Control Chairman Glenn Tilson was authorized to seek a $1.5 million line of credit in order to pay back companies contracted by the hospital.
Interim CEO Jete Edmisson said he does not wish for his suggestion to interfere with the board’s task of seeking a health system to acquire the hospital.
“I request the board consider letting the chairman seek a $1.5 million line of credit to be able to hold off some vendors that we’ve been holding off since I’ve been here,” Edmisson said. “It’s getting to a point where I’m not going to be able to keep them at bay without having legal fees associated with this.”
Edmisson said the money would help pay back the town of Erwin who loaned the hospital $800,000 in May.
“That way we could take out the city note and then pay these vendors that are threatening the lawsuit,” Edmisson said. “That would buy us some time until you all have the opportunity to make a decision on what you want to do with the Wellmont/Mountain States opportunities.”
The town of Erwin approved at a called meeting on Nov. 21 for the hospital to pay $300,000 plus interest back and they would also become the second lien holder instead of the first.
UCMH Board of Control Treasurer Russell Brackins made the motion to approve Tilson to seek the line of credit with a second from Chief of Staff Dr. Frank Wegman. The board approved the motion unanimously. If the loan is approved by the bank, the item will appear before the board again for their approval, Edmisson said.
Chief Financial Officer Toni Buchanan presented the hospital’s financial report to the board during the meeting.
“As you can see we had a negative variance to budget for the month of October,” Buchanan said. A net loss of $355,373 was recorded, Buchanan said. The budgeted loss was $73,755, which created a total variance to budget of $281,618.
Contributing factors included lower revenue by $288,912, higher discounts by $41,513 and lower expenses by $47,420, Buchanan said.
Buchanan also said the year’s variance to budget was a positive $933,142. “But just remember this is part of the EMR (Electronic Medical Records) money that we received [from the state],” Buchanan said. October’s accounts payable was $1,932,315 while accounts receivable was $3,740,897, Buchanan said. “The accounts billed in October was over $3 million,” Buchanan said.
Cash activity for the month of October reflected $1,369,849 in cash deposits and $2,166,978 for vendors paid and accounts payable, Buchanan said.
Information provided in the financial packet for the accounts receivable activity states that the billing department has been reducing the amount of outstanding balances held by the hospital. “Calling patients with outstanding balances offering them a prompt pay discount has occurred throughout this month,” the summary states. “We have received a good response and have closed several past accounts due to the prompt pay offer.”
During the CEO’s report, Edmisson updated the board on the emergency room contract, which began Nov. 1 with ECI Healthcare Partners.
“They truly are focused on addressing any patient concerns or complaints,” Edmisson said.

By Kayla Carter
Staff Writer
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