UPDATE: Another bankruptcy court hearing scheduled for Plymouth hospital

PLYMOUTH, NC (WITN) - Leaders at a troubled hospital are headed back to bankruptcy court.

There have been questions about whether or not Washington regional Medical Center in Plymouth will stay open after employees weren't paid for several weeks.

Leaders have been in and out of bankruptcy court over the past month. The last we were told is that employees were expecting their paychecks, the hospital was looking for funding and that Affinity Health Partners, which manages the hospital, is planning to buy it by January 31.

We will keep you updated on what happens in court in Raleigh today.



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A bankruptcy judge is keeping a troubled Eastern Carolina hospital open, while employees will finally get paid.

That decision for Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth after a hearing today at U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Greenville.

Employees have gone unpaid for several weeks, which is the second time this has happened this year. Earlier this year, the hospital closed after missing payday and then declared bankruptcy.

Affinity Health Partners, which manages the medical center in Plymouth, says the hospital is missing close to $900,000 in Medicare claims that have not been released. They say part of that money helps pay employee's salaries.

The bankruptcy court had given the hospital more time to find funding before today's hearing.

Affinity told the judge that employees will get paid either today or tomorrow for the last two pay periods. This as the hospital continues to run as usual.

Washington County Commissioners had been working on a $500,000 loan to meet payroll, but Affinity got the half-million instead from the hospital's original creditor, First Capital.

The hospital reopened under new management earlier this year and the hospital's CEO says Affinity still plans to buy the hospital by January 31st.

The next hearing in bankruptcy court will be on January 16th in Raleigh.


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A bankruptcy judge could determine the future of a hospital where employees have gone unpaid.

A hearing is underway at the United States Bankruptcy Court in Greenville on whether Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth will close or remain open.

Employees have gone unpaid for several weeks, which is the second time this has happened this year. Earlier this year, the hospital closed after missing payday and then declared bankruptcy.

Affinity Health Partners, which manages the medical center in Plymouth, says the hospital is missing close to $900,000 in Medicare claims that have not been released. They say part of that money helps pay employee's salaries.

The bankruptcy court gave the hospital more time to find funding before today's hearing.

It was last reported that Washington County Commissioners was working with Affinity Health Partners and a bankruptcy trustee to put together a loan of $500,000, but it's unclear how long it will take to work out those terms.

The hospital reopened under new management earlier this year.



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Washington Regional Medical Center will remain open through the holidays even though employees didn't get paid last week.

The United States Bankruptcy Court in Greenville is giving the managing company of Washington Regional Medical Center more time to find funding.

The hospital's CEO, Melanie Perry, talked about the hospital's value in the community.

"When we were closed in February we had people to die because we were not open to stabilize them," said Perry.

The staff at Washington Regional Medical Center went unpaid last week and it's not the first time.
Earlier this year the hospital, then called Washington County Hospital closed after missing payday and then declared bankruptcy.

Now under new management, a U.S. bankruptcy court is giving that company, Affinity Health Partners, more time to find funding before another hearing.

Washington County Manager Curtis Potter said, "It seems like if we're gonna pull something together it's gonna have to be before then."

Washington County Commissioners are working with Affinity Health Partners and a bankruptcy trustee to put together a loan of 500 thousand dollars, but it's unclear how long it will take to work out those terms.

Affinity Health Partners CEO Frank Aviogne said this is a short-term problem with immediate needs.
"We have tried to borrow money, my company has put in money, everybody else has put in money, and it’s just a short-term loan. We're not asking for a handout,” he said.

Aviogne said the hospital is missing close to 900 thousand dollars in unreleased Medicare claims and part of that is what pays employee's salaries.

Now he and hospital staff are asking for others in the community to give loans to the hospital, citing the hospital's life-saving value in the community.

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The bankruptcy court will hold a meeting Thursday morning to discuss the future of Washington Regional Medical Center.

Washington County Manager Curtis Potter says officials will meet in Greenville to determine whether the hospital should stay open after employees were not paid last week.

This comes after Washington County commissioners approved a motion during an emergency meeting Wednesday afternoon to provide emergency funding.

Affinity Health Partners, which manages Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth, announced Tuesday night that employees were expected to get their checks Friday.

Commissioners met to determine whether to give the hospital a loan of $500,000 to get through the end of the month or take some other action.

Commissioners approved a motion to direct staff to work with the bankruptcy trustee and/or Affinity to put together a potential bridge loan package not to exceed $500,000 to be extended by the county to help facilitate the payment of payroll and other critically essential bills, and only upon the condition that First Capital subordinates its claims in the bankruptcy to Washington County, and that Affinity shows reliable proof of financing to actually close upon the purchase of the hospital facility by the Trustee as originally proposed to the bankruptcy court.

The hospital closed in the spring due to bankruptcy before it reopened under new management. The bankruptcy court has called a show cause meeting Thursday morning in Greenville to determine whether the facility should be closed.


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Employees at Washington Regional Medical Center, formerly Washington County Hospital, who went without pay last week, are expected to get their checks Friday.

Affinity Health Partners, which manages the medical center in Plymouth, made that announcement Tuesday evening.

The hospital closed in the spring due to bankruptcy before it reopened under new management, and now that company's CEO says these payroll issues are an unexpected setback but that the hospital is doing better than it has in years.

Frank Aviogne, Affinity Health Partners CEO, says, "My commitment to the employees was Friday, we can't go past Friday."

Aviogne says he is talking to loan sources to make sure employees are paid for the rest of the month.

He says the hospital is missing close to $900,000 in Medicare claims that have not been released and the hospital needs that money to pay employees.

Aviogne says, "This hospital has to be here. There are no options and I need help right now raising this little bit of capital so that we can get over the hump."

Melanie Perry, Washington Regional Medical Center CEO says, "We have had bad experiences in the past but this cycle, this go round has been extremely different."

Perry says she is cautiously optimistic that the payroll issues will be resolved by Friday as promised.

Aviogne says Medicare claims usually slow down in December but it is unusual for payments to stop and it doesn't seem to be related to the hospital's finances.

Aviogne says, "All of us are scratching our heads trying to figure out why this is where it is."

He hopes those funds will be released to the hospital by the beginning of the year and he says his company plans to invest further in the facility.

Right now the company is leading the bid to buy the hospital property.

Aviogne says, "Our other intention is to build a new facility on the property that this one is on today."

Hospital staff say despite the payroll delay so close to the Christmas holiday, spirits have been high and they are trusting that this is the end of the medical center's financial woes, not the beginning of more.

Muffin Dickerson, Washington Regional Medical Center lab manager says, "But we have to have the community support continue for us to survive and it's happening, they have started having faith in us again but we need to keep that."

Aviogne says Affinity Health Partners has put together an emergency fund for those 97 employees, but right now it is not enough to completely pay all of them until loans are acquired.

Services are continuing at the medical center as normal at this time.

Affinity Health Partners hopes to purchase Washington Regional Medical Center at auction at the end of January if there are no other higher bidders.