JAMESTOWN — Rennova Health has taken several steps to remedy the months of turmoil that have embroiled Jamestown Regional Medical Center and left the hospital’s future in doubt.
In a statement on Friday, Rennova said that it has made all unemployment-related filings with the state and paid all taxes due to the state for employees who were recently laid off at Jamestown Regional, and that health benefits for all employees at the hospitals — including “any who we have recently separated with,” Rennova said — remain covered through June 30.
Additionally, the company has paid the Internal Revenue Service “hundreds of thousands of dollars” while retaining “new tax attorneys” to ensure that outstanding filings are taken care of. “The company will satisfy any requirement for IRS payments that exists,” Rennova said in the statement.
Reports that at least some of the hospital’s employees were having social security taxes withheld but not submitted to the IRS were confirmed by a survey completed last month by the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).
Rennova also said that it has “initiated the process” to have its participation in the Medicare program reinstated. The hospital “has submitted paperwork as guided by its legal team who continue to communicate and work diligently with CMS on the matter,” the company said. “We look forward to a successful outcome on this matter but have no control of the timeframe that the relative parties will complete their part in the process.”
After working with the hospital for more than three months, CMS announced last month that it would terminate the hospital’s participation in the program, meaning Jamestown Regional could no longer receive federal reimbursement for services provided to Medicare or Medicaid patients. CMS laid out the reasoning for its decision in a lengthy report that was based on separate surveys completed at the hospital in February and May.
The hospital has since closed, and the reason publicly given for the closure was the lack of Medicare participation. However, sources inside the hospital told the Independent Herald that the hospital’s liability insurance for its employees had lapsed, and that a number of employees and doctors were refusing to work as a result, leading to what has been termed a “temporary” closure.
Additionally, Rennova announced that its CEO, Seamus Lagan, has retained a Tennessee-based law firm specializing in defamation and “instructed them to take whatever actions are permissible by law against a number of individuals who have made false and disparaging remarks or posted on a web based forum.”
The company said that “Numerous misstatements have been made by individuals, some of who should know better, and then repeated by press causing irreparable damage and cost.”
Rennova did not specify which statements appearing in published reports it considers libelous. However, there have been persistent rumors of a misinformation campaign involving multiple high-ranking officials intent on seeing Jamestown Regional fail under Rennova’s ownership.
The harshest criticism of Rennova has come from state Rep. John Mark Windle, D-Livingston, who has on multiple occasions referred to Lagan as “an Irish gangster.” Windle’s initial rebuke of Lagan was criticized by some at the local level, but Windle, who is an attorney, has not relented.
While Jamestown Regional remained closed earlier this week, Rennova-owned hospitals in Oneida and Jellico remain open. Sources inside Big South Fork Medical Center say the hospital is doing well and the turmoil in Jamestown will not have an impact on the Oneida facility.