Sale of WRMC to Affinity Health Partners delayed

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PLYMOUTH, N.C. (WNCT) Officials said the tentatively approved sale of Washington Regional Medical Center to Affinity Health Partners has been delayed.

The sale was expected to be completed by January 31 but has been delayed but is still pending.

Affinity and the Trustee have requested and been granted an extension of time in order to complete the sale as intended, officials said.

A confirmation hearing has been tentatively scheduled for March 11.

During the extension period, the County anticipates that the hospital will remain open and fully operational without any delays or disruption in services.

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PLYMOUTH, N.C. (WNCT) In the ongoing bankruptcy case involving the Washington County Regional Medical Center, Judge Callaway tentatively approved the sale of the hospital to Affinity Health Partners as anticipated, officials said.

According to Curtis S. Potter, County Manager/County Attorney, the sale is subject to Affinity’s bringing the necessary funding to closing and satisfying certain additional terms and conditions. 

The closing is tentatively scheduled to take place on January 31.

The date may be modified by the court if deemed necessary as well.

Until the closing actually takes place or until further notice, the county anticipates that services at WRMC will remain unaffected and business will continue as usual.

The county will continue to monitor the situation closely through the final closing and will address any issues that may arise appropriately.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) — In a second bankruptcy court hearing, a judge authorized a $500,000 loan for Washington Regional Medical Center.

The loan comes from First Capitol.

With the approval of the loan, hospital employees will receive a paycheck after weeks of uncertainty sometime Monday evening, or Tuesday during the day.

The issue started after Medicaid reimbursements didn’t come through like expected, which left the hospital short on cash.

“The hospital is not out of the woods by any stretch of the imagination, but it’s definitely operating much better, ” said Frank Avignone, CEO of Affinity Health Partners. “We’ve stayed busy throughout the entire crisis. That’s definitely a good indicator that that little hospital needs to be there, and needs to survive.”

Through the process, only one employee left the facility due to the payroll issue.

That employee has since returned.

Officials say it’s a testament to the family atmosphere and positive environment inside the Washington Regional Medical Center.

“It’s a proud moment when a staff of 97 stays beside you and decides to battle to keep the hospital open,” said Avignone. “It’s not just about taking care of patients and working with colleagues, it’s really about family.”

Avignone also reached out to North Carolina Senators Tillis and Burr to try and start a bigger conversation on how smaller rural hospitals can get extra help.

Affinity Health Partners is still looking to purchase the hospital.

Their closing date is set for January 31.

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GREENVILLE, N.C. (WNCT) Thursday the bankruptcy court in Greenville heard directly from Washington Regional staff.

Some sharing their love and support for the facility and the community.

The county, hospital, employees, and the judge want the situation regarding the hospital resolved as soon a possible.

Thursday the judge said he wants at least one payroll dispersed if and when possible.

The court also granted 10 extra days to find the money needed to resolve the matter.

“But today in hearing the outcome there is still a ray of hope however, we are in a position where we are needing help to save our hospital. Again, this is not a place we’d thought we’d be.” said, Melanie Perry, CEO, Washington Regional Medical Center

The Washington County manager Curtis Potter tells 9 On Your Side that the county is still looking for the reasonable assurance they need from Affinity Health Partners to purchase the hospital.

Potter adds that the county hasn’t seen the degree of assurance they need to completely comfortable that Affinity can purchase the facility.

Tuesday night a hospital employee says they received an email from the hospital saying due to the delay in county support that their payroll will not be delivered Friday as planned.

The next bankruptcy hearing will take place in Greenville on December 30th, 11 am at the U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Uptown.

Contingency Plans:

Officials said that Washington County is fully prepared to deal with the possible consequences that may occur in the event of another temporary diversion of medical services at WRMC if such diversion should be deemed necessary by hospital officials.

However, that is not the case at this time.

In such an event, Washington County will re-release information previously shared during the last such diversion in February of 2019 to inform citizens of their options and will keep the public informed of any major changes or developments in this situation.

If you have a medical emergency, dial 911.

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PLYMOUTH, N.C. (WNCT) The Washington County Board of Commissioners called an emergency meeting about the Washington Regional Hospital.

The board has three options:

1- The board takes no immediate action until additional information and facts concerning the hospital’s financial performance can be obtained and reviewed.

2- The board authorizes an unsecured loan between $500,000 and $650,000 to cover about four to six weeks of payroll through December 31 and into January 2020.

3- The board can continue to support the effort of the Bankruptcy Trustee to keep the hospital open and operating.

According to the county manager, they decided to draft up a bridge loan package of $500,000 that could be extended to help carry the hospital into January 2020.

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PLYMOUTH, N.C (WNCT) Tuesday evening Frank Avignone who is the CEO of Affinity Health Partners held a press conference inside of Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth to clear up the confusion.

“This hospital has to be here. There are no options. I need help right now raising this little bit of capital so that we can get over the hump and get to the sale of the facility and get financing that my company will bring to the table to make sure we don’t get into this situation again.” said, Frank Avignone, CEO of Affinity Health Partners.

On December 13, 2019, employees with the hospital reached out to 9 On Your Side after learning their checks would be delayed.

We reached out to the hospital to get answers.

“We’re aiming for Monday to try and get everybody whole again.” said, Avignone

On December 16, 2019, we followed up with some of the workers. Still, no pay on Monday, as planned.

“This is not about if my company did the job, the staff did the job, or any wrongdoing in the facility it’s just reimbursement.” said, Avignone

The reimbursements Avignone is referring to are from Medicaid.

“We have over 3 million in claims or close to sitting out there ready to be processed. Some of those have errors, that is true. Those are simple to fix errors.” said Avignone

This information bringing little comfort for some workers.

“I was devastated and that’s only because I had bills that I know I needed to pay. I got some extensions on certain things. I was shocked, I was like oh my goodness Friday these things were supposed to get paid! What am I gonna do?” said Tracee Baxton, a former employee of Washington Regional Medical Center.

Baxton says she didn’t get paid and decided to quit her job on December 14, 2019.

Hospital leadership says the goal is to get their employees paid by December 20, 2019.

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9 On Your Side is getting answers for employees at Washington Regional Medical Center in Plymouth.

Concerned employees wanting to know where their money is and when they are going to get it.

One staff member told 9OYS that they are now in the market for a new job now that they didn’t get paid.

They said there was a line of employees trying to figure out what happened to their checks. Adding that they know a lot of people who are planning to quit due to this situation.

The hospital has faced hardships in the past by filing for bankruptcy.

9 On Your Side spoke to hospital leadership about the confusion.

Leadership shares hold on Medicaid payments and other factors are apart of the delay.

“My company has made several loans to keep the facility running and at this point, we thought we had a loan that would matriculate and it did not at the last minute and so we had to postpone payroll for a very short period of time while we back up and get funds in the bank and make payroll good,” said, Frank Avignone, CEO of Affinity Health Partners

He goes on to say that small medical centers like Washington Regional obtain loans to function normally.

The hope is to have all this fixed and get people paid on Monday. He shares that the hospital has been doing great volume-wise and that it’s busiest it’s ever been in the last decade.

No word on how much the loan for the hospital was for or why they didn’t get it.

Hospital leadership says the lender backed out last minute.

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