Beaufort Commissioners Wait For Action From Hospital Board

Beaufort County leaders are stepping aside - for the time being - when it comes to deciding the fate of the county hospital.

The board held another special session Wednesday afternoon - most of which was spent in closed session.

They had originally planned to speak with Community Health Systems, but CHS unexpectedly withdrew its proposal Tuesday.

Instead, commissioners talked with their attorneys about the lawsuit hanging over their heads, and decided their next step is to wait for the hospital board to make a new recommendation.


The leading contender to take over Beaufort County Medical Center has withdrawn its proposal.

In a letter to county officials, Community Health Systems says the issue of who operates the hospital has "become a divisive force among local residents, the medical community, and hospital employees."

CHS Senior Vice President Kenneth Hawkins said in his letter that it has become increasingly apparent that the community may not be ready to move forward with a decision. He cited the 5-4 vote last week in favor of CHS and Monday's court injunction.

To read the entire letter from CHS, click the link at the top of this story.

CHS was picked last week over Greenville-base University Health Systems to operate the hospital. County commissioners, which have to give final approval, had not yet voted on the proposal and a superior court judge issued an injunction Monday preventing any immediate vote.

County commissioner and hospital board member Hood Richardson says he remains committed in securing the best possible arrangement that will provide residents the highest quality health care. He says they must look at an offer from LHP, Incorporated as well as continue to study the UHS offer.

The hospital has sustained financial difficulties in recent months. In November, the trustees voted to cut 5% of the pay for those who make $10 or more an hour.

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A temporary injunction is now in place against the Beaufort County Commissioners, which means they can’t vote on the future of Beaufort County Medical Center for at least the next ten days.

The request for an injunction was filed by the Burch Law Office on behalf of James and Phyllis Boyd. It was granted today.

The request suggests the public has not been given the correct voice and the correct information about the future of the hospital.

Last week, the hospital board recommended control of the hospital be given to Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based company.

Many citizens want the hospital to be controlled by University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina. A rally against a potential CHS transfer was held Saturday in Washington.

The request for the injunction also suggests the county commissioners will violate a statute if they vote on the matter Wednesday, when a special session is scheduled. The injunction request also alleges a violation of open meetings law in connection with this issue.

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Chanting “UHS” in unison and signs in hand, hundreds of people rallied Saturday afternoon in Washington to discuss the future of the Beaufort County Medical Center.

Many protestors are upset at the hospital board’s recent recommendation that Community Health Systems is the best choice to run the hospital, instead of University Health Systems.

Dr. Brenda Peacock says, "I feel like the decision given to county commissioners was not in the best interest of this hospital long term."

The board’s recommendation now goes to Beaufort County commissioners. On Friday there was a public meeting held with the commissioners, but then it led to a closed session.

Donna Woolard says, “They are refusing to listen to us because they are having repeated closed door sessions.”

So protesters took to the streets Saturday to get their voices heard. Some protesters say there are several reasons they think UHS would be the best fit.

Derik Davis says, “Number one, the proximity of UHS to Beaufort County Medical Center, it’s only twenty minutes away. Number two, there already is some relational connectiveness between the two facilities as is.

Donna Woolard says, “I don't care about the money. I care about the continuity, the professionalism and the quality of care.

But there are those that believe Community Health Systems may be the best fit including Commissioner Clifton Gray. He says, “If UHS wants to truly lease the hospital or lease with an option to purchase at the expiration of the lease term like the CHS proposal, then the offer would begin appearing more attractive. But to own the hospital and its contents for 24 million is outrageous."

There is another special session scheduled for Wednesday at 2 p.m.

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Hundreds of people attended a rally Saturday afternoon to discuss the future of the Beaufort County Medical Center in Washington.

The event was held at 1247 Highland Dr. across from Tideland Mental Health.

The rally came in the wake of this week's recommendation by the hospital board that Community Health Systems was the best choice to run the hospital.The recommendation was then given to the
Beaufort County Board of Commissioners.

The commissioners held a public meeting Friday night to discuss the issue but spent most of the time away from the public.

Commissioners opened the special meeting by saying they'd be moving into closed session for about two hours. County manager Paul Spruill says the commissioners planned to talk about the recommendation the hospital board made to have Community Health Systems manage the hospital.

More than 100 people turned out, but the crowd shrunk slightly as the evening wore on. Evelyne Roberson waited the entire night. "We're taxpayers and we're not going to sit here and let someone dictate to us what they're doing and telling us how it should be done and not allow us to speak."

The commissioners came out of closed session after about an hour and half. They announced they wouldn't be taking any action Friday night. They have another special session planned for Wednesday at 2:00 pm.

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The Beaufort County Board of Commissioners will convene this afternoon to prepare to review the proposals for new management of the hospital in Washington.

The Beaufort County Regional Health System's Board of Trustees voted for Community Health Systems of Tennessee, in a 5 to 4 vote.

Today's meeting is at 4:30 p.m. at the Beaufort County Community College multi-purpose room. The county manager says parts of the meeting may go into closed session.

Another meeting is scheduled for Wednesday, January 12 at 2 the same location. The commissioners are scheduled to begin the actual review of the proposal from Community Health Systems.

Meanwhile, a group calling itself Citizens In Favor of University Health Systems says it will hold a rally Saturday in Washington.

The group says speakers will include several local doctors and hospital board members. It will be held at 1247 Highland Drive and begins at 1:00 p.m.

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Hospital trustees voted Monday to recommend that Community Health Systems operate the Beaufort County Medical Center.

The vote was 5-4, and will now go to county commissioners. Voting for CHS were Hood Richardson, Howard Cadmus, Clifton Gray, Allen Roberson and Alice Mills Sadler. Voting against CHS were Dr. Brenda Peacock, Edwin M. Hardy, Grace Bonner and Suzanne Gray.

A negotiating team earlier reported that it is deadlocked between Community Health Systems, a Tennessee-based hospital group and University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina.

The hospital has sustained financial difficulties in recent months.
In November, the trustees voted to cut 5% of the pay for those who make $10 or more an hour.

Community operates more than 126 hospitals in 29 states, with an aggregate of approximately 19,400 licensed beds.

Beaufort County commissioners are expected to conduct their own interview process with at least the top two contenders before they make a final vote.

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We may soon have answers about the future of Beaufort County Medical Center.

The board is meeting today to hear from the negotiating team that has been speaking with parties interested in taking over the hospital.

The meeting was originally scheduled December 27 but was postponed because of the snow.

An agenda sent out Thursday reports there will be a recommendation to the full board from the negotiating team on the various proposals and that there could be a vote on those proposals.

In recent months, it was reported interested parties included University Health Systems of Eastern Carolina, Tennessee-based Community Health Systems and Texas-based LHP Hospital Group.

The hospital has sustained financial difficulties in recent months. Also on the agenda for Monday is an item about accounts receivable.

In November, the trustees voted to cut 5% of the pay for those who make $10 or more an hour.

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  • by Tom Location: Washington on Jan 12, 2011 at 04:14 PM
    To "R". Very well framed sir. However the asset is only worth what a willing purchaser is willing to pay and our Hospital depreciates daily as Hood Richardson and those who enable him put in place policies that degrade the product, health care for the residents of Beaufort County. This is approaching malfeasance as those who lack ability attempt to manage a system of critical importance to the community and run it potentially into the ground while they claim to be preserving its value.
  • by R Location: Washington on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:48 PM
    I think I am putting the pieces together. I am a health care provider. The county and the medical community would like the best health care possible. Mr. Richardson would like to preserve the county assets. Two different lines of thinking, I understand both. The problem I see is that the asset will be significantly devalued if the health care providers and the patient base shifts loyalty to the Greenville or New Bern area. My feeling is cut losses and partner with UHC, my humble opinion.
  • by to Bill's Girls Location: BCMC on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:30 PM
    You sure do alot of posting on the hospital's clock; maybe our IT dept. can run a report on how many employees are posting/reading/posting again on company time.
  • by JW Location: Washington on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:27 PM
    Now that our board of commissioners is waiting for another recommendation, we need to demand that Mr. Richardson is removed from the hospital board! That's one mistake that the commisioners made, that they can correct!!
  • by Mike Location: Pantego on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:17 PM
    Whats the problem here? It was between UHS and CHS. With Chs out that only leaves UHS. Why wont the boards do what the citizens want?
  • by hospital board on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:16 PM
    The non hospital members of the board need to resign. Hood is so toxic that he will go to any length to get his way. He is an arrogant bully. Let's get him off the hospital board and get Al Klemm on it. He has actually run a business and understands business practices. Alice needs to go back to the Boys and Girls Club and stay there. She is just a puppet anyway to what Jerry Langley and Hood tells her to do.We need to wash the slate clean and get some local people who have some sense and can make a non political decision. Get 'em all out.
  • by To Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 03:10 PM
    To Anonymous posted at 3:54 pm........RIGHT ON!!! "Someone" needs to go into BRHS, wipe the slate clean, and start over with productive management.
  • by wow on Jan 12, 2011 at 01:16 PM
    and now it goes back to the hospital for further action...the same group that wanted chs. according to hood, negotiations are over, we must act now. So, I fully expect the hosp board to recommend uhs within days (sarcasm). Remember, it has already been stated repeatedly that these were the best two options. What say you now hoody? Every dollar lost from this day forward lies squarely on the shoulders of this board
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 01:14 PM
    Logic, the commissioners would have but Hood wouldn't approve the travel funds.
  • by Anonymous on Jan 12, 2011 at 12:54 PM
    Committee of One, Who cares if these people are replaced. Maybe someone will come in that actually has experience running a hospital and can turn this thing around. Your posts sounds like it wants to keep the same "Wall Street Cronies" in office when they've run our hospital in the ground. Poor leadership needs to be replaced, Management team, Hospital Board and our Commissioners.

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