May 23, 2002
Hospital sale could have major impact on the availability of care for uninsured residents.
In a motion filed late yesterday, local and national consumer groups asked U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Ronald G. Pearson to consider the community’s healthcare needs in evaluating bids to purchase Logan General Hospital, which filed for protection under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code in 1998. Judge Pearson has the power to determine whether any proposed plan put forth is appropriate for both the community and the creditors.
“For more than 30 years Logan General has provided critical healthcare services to the medically underserved in Logan County,” said Michael Pollard, Coordinator at Logan County Family Resource Network. “As a nonprofit corporation, Logan General not only has a responsibility to its creditors but also to the community. We believe that the community’s interest should be taken into account during these bankruptcy proceedings.”
Logan General Hospital’s plan to affiliate with Genesis Hospital System, Inc. was halted when Genesis announced its dissolution in December 2001. Logan General’s Board announced last month that it would sell the hospital to whatever nonprofit or for-profit buyer provides the “highest and best” offer.
Logan County Family Resource Network along with national consumer advocacy organizations Consumers Union and Community Catalyst filed today’s papers as a supplement to a “friend of the court” brief filed in the bankruptcy proceeding last month. In each of these filings, the three groups asked the Bankruptcy Court to consider requiring all proposed disclosure statements and reorganization plans for Logan General to address how and whether identified community health issues will be met. The groups’ recommendations to address these concerns include:
1. A provision of charity care in an amount no less than the statewide average.
2. Addressing the community’s most pressing medical needs through the provision of medical services, including the maintenance of the emergency room by the hospital.
3. A hospital board of directors that will include 40% representation from key community populations.
Pollard noted that “If the Court takes these issues into consideration, it would go a long way toward protecting the interests and maintaining the health of Logan County residents.” Logan County residents are in great need of the kinds of healthcare services that Logan General has long been obligated to provide. He went on to explain, “the percentage of Logan County residents without health insurance is nearly double the national average.” In a recent survey conducted by the Logan County Family Resource Network, 70% of the respondents said that they had obtained medical services from Logan General in the last five years, and 50% said that they had utilized the emergency room during the same period.
Together with Consumers Union and Community Catalyst, the Logan County Family Resource Network will appear before the Bankruptcy Court on May 29th to offer its assistance in reviewing any proposed reorganization plan for Logan General.
The Logan County Family Resource Network is a community-based organization charged with developing a local community plan to address the coordination of local services, creating strategies for systemic improvements, and evaluating results of the healthcare delivery system with the mission of “people helping people help themselves.” The Logan County Family Resource Network works to mobilize the Logan community to improve health services for the families who live there.
Consumers Union, publisher of Consumer Reports, is a nonprofit testing and information organization serving only the consumer. Consumers Union is a comprehensive source for unbiased advice about products and services, personal finance, health, nutrition, and other consumer concerns. Since 1936, our mission has been to test products, inform the public, and protect consumers.
Community Catalyst is a Boston-based national advocacy organization that works in partnership with consumer and community groups around the country to promote healthcare justice. Community Catalyst seeks to strengthen the voice of consumers and communities wherever decisions shaping the future of our health system are being made. Community Catalyst provides a range of technical assistance services that includes policy analysis, legal assistance, strategic planning and community organizing support.
Together, Community Catalyst and Consumers Union compose the Community Health Assets Project, a national effort that seeks to protect nonprofit charitable assets and to ensure that community health needs are addressed in the conversion of nonprofit healthcare institutions to for-profit status. It is staffed by a team of attorneys, health policy analysts and education specialists with extensive experience in the full range of substantive issues presented by the nonprofit conversion process. The staff provides assistance and technical advice to local organizations, philanthropic leaders, policymakers and regulators. A collaborative approach is emphasized in staff work with local leaders. The project is unique in its ability to apply its broad base of experience to the particular circumstances of a given state, community and transaction.
Michael Pollard, Logan County Family Resource Network
Renée Markus Hodin, Community Catalyst