Panel in closed session on Hutcheson deal

Panel in closed session on Hutcheson deal

April 6th, 2011 by Chris Carroll in Local - Breaking News

Trustees of the Hospital Authority that owns Hutcheson Medical Center have entered a closed session to discuss a potential partnership with Erlanger Health System, locking out 150 observers in the process.

Nurses, doctors, technicians, their families and other supporters have been protesting since 4:30 p.m., many toting signs that support a partnership between Erlanger and Hutcheson, which laid off 75 people Monday morning.

They - along with Erlanger representatives - are standing in Hutcheson's administrative halls, waiting for officials to let them back in.

The North Georgia community hospital is losing $1 million a month and is in default on a $35 million bond issue.

Three other Hutcheson oversight boards have approved a partnership with Erlanger - the details of which remain confidential - but the Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties must agree before the deal bounces back to Erlanger's board.

Erlanger has been willing to front at least $20 million to keep Hutcheson afloat, but only if the three counties on the Hospital Authority agree to guarantee collateral if Hutcheson stays in the red.

For complete details, see tomorrow's Times Free Press.