WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (WATE) — Rennova Health is defending the money it received from the COVID-19 CARES Act on behalf of the closed Jamestown Regional Medical Center.
In a release on Thursday, Rennova CEO Seamus Lagan said the company does not know the metrics used to determine how much the Jamestown, Tennessee, hospital received, but the $121,000 payment was “in accordance with the guidelines and terms of such relief.”
“We look forward to reopening this facility and while no plans are yet confirmed, we will consider reopening the ER as a first step if we can be certain we will get paid for the services we provide,” Lagan says in the release.
The hospital was closed last June, well before the first cases of the COVID-19 pandemic began to show arise. Since then, residents of Fentress County have had to drive nearly 45 minutes to the next closest hospital in either Cookeville or Crossville. One hundred-fifty doctors, nurses and staff lost their jobs when the hospital closed.
In a letter to the company Wednesday, Tennessee Sen. Marsha Blackburn asked for an explanation for the payment while mentioning a tax lien on another of its properties in East Tennessee, Scott County Community Hospital.
“All 2020 taxes throughout the Rennova group are paid and current and discussions are ongoing and constructive as repayment of any older outstanding taxes is facilitated by Rennova,” Lagan said.
“We are not aware of any money owed to any nurse or employee that worked at any of our facilities and our payroll department is confident they have not made any errors in this matter, nor have they had any errors reported to them from anyone.”
Lagan also addressed an employee lawsuit that claims the company adverted the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, calling it “frivolous.”
The WARN Act requires businesses with more than 100 full-time employees to give 60 days written notice of closure.
“This is absolutely not the case as there are clearly defined exceptions to the WARN 60-day notice rules that the company was entitled to and did rely on,” Lagan said. “Had the company been in a financial position to provide some extended payroll to employees at the time of closing it would have willingly done so.”
The release from Lagan went on further defending Rennova saying the company has invested in rural hospitals across East Tennessee, including the reopening Big South Fork Medical Center in Oneida and taking ownership of Jellico Medical Center, and faced difficult circumstances as a result. of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
“The ongoing pandemic has created a very difficult financial environment for rural hospitals with reduced revenues and increased costs. The need for healthcare services in rural communities is unquestionable and appreciation must be shown to those workers on the front line who accept the increased risk to their own well-being to come to work and receive and care for patients in the current environment.
“While unfortunate that it took such a serious event, the pandemic has highlighted the importance of, and financial pressures in the rural healthcare sector and will likely lead to a new appreciation and support to ensure these services remain and grow to meet the needs of an increasingly ageing population in rural America.
“Our priority at Rennova remains the safety of our employees, our patients and all visitors to our healthcare facilities. We were proactive in our approach to increased safety measures and policies and hope to exit this pandemic without tragedy for anyone working at or visiting our hospital facilities.
“While the Jamestown hospital closure remains unfortunate and we continue to believe was avoidable, we are committed and look forward to reopening this facility with a new management team as soon as practical and permissible by the relevant agencies to permit payment for services to be received.
“We remain confident that a small cluster of rural hospitals creates many synergies and efficiencies that will permit the longer-term success of the operations.”
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