File photo WMH.jpg

Williamson Memorial Hospital filed for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and issued a WARN notice about a potential closure to all 157 of its employees on Oct. 21.

WILLIAMSON — Williamson Memorial Hospital filed for bankruptcy protection Monday, Oct. 21, and issued federal WARN notices about a potential closure of the facility to all 157 of its full-time and PRN employees.

The 100-year-old hospital made the Chapter 11 filing in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of West Virginia. Chapter 11 permits reorganization under the bankruptcy laws of the United States.

Williamson-based Mingo Health Partners LLC bought the 76-bed hospital from Franklin, Tennessee-based Community Healthcare Systems in 2018.

The group is composed of Williamson Mayor Charlie Hatfield, former Mayor Sam Kapourales and Huntington attorney and former Delegate Doug Reynolds, who is also managing partner of HD Media, which owns the Williamson Daily News among other Southern West Virginia newspapers.

The bankruptcy filing lists at least 50 creditors, including $651,000 owed to CHS and $486,000 to Huntington-based Ohio Valley Physicians, an emergency department staffing company. The filing also lists the hospital’s assets and liabilities both at between $1 million and $10 million.

The Williamson Daily News obtained a copy of the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification (WARN) that was placed in the mailbox of the 150-plus employees of the hospital Oct. 21 that notified them of the hospital’s filing and the potential closure.

“This is to advise you that Williamson Memorial Hospital may permanently close its hospital facility. If it occurs, the exact date of the closing is unknown at this time but should take place approximately on or before Dec. 21, 2019,” the letter read. “Current ownership is using its best efforts to restructure the debt through Chapter 11 Bankruptcy and keep the hospital operating under new management or find a new owner that will have the resources to keep the hospital open in the future.”

The letter went on to say, “The closing of this facility is due to the general economic difficulties of delivering healthcare in Mingo County, the low rate of reimbursements for services rendered, and the high cost of equipment necessary to provide for its patient population.”

The WARN notice was signed by Kapourales and also named new leadership for the hospital as Gene Preston, a hospital specialist from Huntington who was named the interim chief executive officer. Preston replaces Hatfield, who served his final day as CEO on Friday, Oct. 18.

Preston took over on Monday, Oct. 21 and then released a statement on Friday on the WMH Facebook page about the hospital’s future.

“During this period, all efforts are being made to secure the future of Williamson Memorial Hospital and we remain committed to our patients and our community,” Preston said. “The employees of Williamson Memorial Hospital are some of the most dedicated I have met during my career. With them we will use our best efforts to keep Williamson Memorial Hospital as a going concern and a critical access point to health care in this community.”

WMH and Mingo Health Partners were also served with two lawsuits filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia in recent weeks, including former CEO Stacy Markus claiming that her termination as CEO was “willful and malicious” and that she was victim to a HIPPA violation.

A second lawsuit was brought by Hospital Management Associates, CHSPSC and Physician Practice Support, which claims WMH breached a purchase agreement made with them when purchasing the hospital and still owes more than $800,000.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com.

Jarrid McCormick is a reporter for the Williamson Daily News. He can be reached by email at jmccormick@HDMediaLLC.com