JAMESTOWN — As the saga at Jamestown Regional Medical Center continues to unfold, EMS services around the region were told Tuesday not to deliver patients to the hospital’s emergency room.
The Independent Herald confirmed that the hospital’s ER informed ambulance services in neighboring communities — including Scott County — on Tuesday that it could not accept patients. Reportedly, the reason is a lack of supplies to treat patients.
The latest comes five days after Jamestown Regional was within hours of closing. On Thursday, the hospital was preparing to close, though it ultimately remained open on a “day-to-day” basis.
The stated reason behind Thursday’s planned closure, according to Fentress County leaders who said they spoke to executives of Rennova Health, the hospital’s parent company, was an order from the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) to close by nightfall or be forced to close, due to unpaid taxes which the hospital said it paid on Thursday.
While the IH confirmed that the Internal Revenue Service had placed a tax lien on the hospital for more than $475,000 in unpaid taxes, CMS told the IH that it does not force hospitals to close. And while it has an open case involving Jamestown Regional’s Medicare license, the agency said in a statement that it had not issued a final termination notice as of Thursday.
“CMS and the Tennessee State Survey Agency are working together to ensure the safety of all patients in this facility. We continue to work with the hospital’s leadership to address its noncompliance with Medicare Certificate of Participation,” the agency said in a statement on Monday.
An employee of the hospital who spoke to the IH on condition of anonymity over the weekend said that a faction of the hospital’s staff is disgruntled with the hospital’s ownership and are hoping that it ultimately fails so that the facility might be reopened under new ownership.
“The workers are what has hurt this hospital,” the employee said, adding that there had been multiple walkouts attempted but that those efforts had failed because not all employees would buy in.
“I’ve always gotten paid. I’ve always had the equipment I needed and the supplies I needed to do my job,” the employee said. “Lots of the workers believe that they will shut it down and the state will take over and we will continue to work the next day. They have no idea what the state taking over entails and how long it will take for all codes to be passed in the building.”
The employee, who asked not to be identified for fear of reprisal, said that the hospital’s patient load dropped dramatically after some of the physicians in Jamestown stopped admitting patients at the hospital. The Fentress Courier first reported two weeks ago that some of the physicians had stopped admitting patients out of fear for their safety.
“We had been very busy, then they stopped admitting their patients and started telling people it was unsafe here,” the employee said. “That’s what hurt our numbers. Our patient load has drastically declined in the last two weeks.”
An IRS lien has was also filed against Rennova-owned Big South Fork Medical Center earlier this month. However, the lien filed against the local hospital was for less than $1,500 in unpaid taxes, dating back to December 2017. A state tax lien that had previously been placed has been lifted. Sources at the local hospital have been adamant that the Oneida facility is on solid financial footing despite the reports emerging from its sister hospital in Jamestown.