Rural East Tennessee hospital turning to bank to pay employees

Local News

A rural East Tennessee hospital is counting on a bank to pay its employees. 

Staff at Big South Fork Medical Center in Scott County expected a paycheck Friday, but were told in an email obtained by WATE 6 On Your Side that due to “issues with receipt and transfer of funds to our local bank account,” the company projected they’d be paid Monday after 5 p.m. Then staff received an email that said checks would be delayed until late Tuesday. 

An email from the director of Human Relations for Rennova Health, Inc., sent at 6:21 p.m Tuesday, said they anticipate employee pay to be released Wednesday. 

The email said, in part: “The company is working with external bankers to secure significant funding and to close on a bridge funding to meet current needs. It was anticipated that this funding would have been secured by now but unfortunately, it has taken a few additional days to get closed. We anticipate payroll to be released tomorrow, June 5th without further delay and to immediately resume the normal payroll processing schedule without delays in the future.”

Rennova also operates Jellico Community Hospital in Campbell County and Jamestown Regional Medical Center in Fentress County

The federal government announced last week it would no longer reimburse the Jamestown facility for patient services through Medicare or Medicaid. The government indicated the move is due to Rennova’s failure to provide financial resources. With the hospital owing money to vendors, ambulances no longer take patients to the Emergency Room. 

Some people in Oneida feel their hometown hospital is also in jeopardy. For people living in or near that area, without BSFMC, they’d have to drive more than 50 minutes to Jellico or La Follete, or more than an hour to get to a hospital in Oak Ridge. 

Margaret Manning and her husband, Ricky, fear their comfort of knowing help is just up the road could be going away. “We’ve had issues with our hospital for a long time now, for a few years. It’s very important to this county, she said.

A longer drive, she fears, could be life-threatening, especially for elderly people.

Ricky Manning had an injury on a mower a few years ago, when a wire went through part of his ankle. “If I had to drive 45 minutes or somewhere to get to the hospital, he might, would have passed out on me, I would have gotten scared and not known what was going on,” Margaret Manning added. 

Other than the delayed payroll and the cut to federal funds at another nearby Rennova hospital, there is no concrete sign the hospital is in trouble. 

Neither the hospital nor the corporate office in West Palm Beach, Florida, have responded to requests for comment.

“Sounds like we definitely need to pray and also it’s a scare that people are going to go and find another job because they’re afraid they’re going to be dependable to get paid there, and they might walk off again,” Manning said. 

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