Town hall meeting set to discuss Hutcheson issues

Town hall meeting set to discuss Hutcheson issues

March 7th, 2011 by Staff Report in Local - Breaking News

Staff Photo by Angela Lewis<br/> Hutcheson Medical Center.

Officials in Walker, Catoosa and Dade counties will hold a town hall-style meeting Thursday to discuss funding and other issues surrounding Hutcheson Medical Center.

The meeting will take place at 7 p.m. at the Colonnade Center, 264 Catoosa Circle, in Ringgold.

Last week, leaders in the three counties sent a letter to the Hutcheson board of directors, demanding that their county-appointed trustees start playing a lead role in the partnership negotiations between Hutcheson and Erlanger Health System.

Hutcheson is losing about $1 million a month, and has lost more than $7 million over the past two fiscal years. Hutcheson is also in default of its $35 million bond issue, limiting its financial options.

Hutcheson leaders are currently negotiating a partnership arrangement with Erlanger in the hopes that a strategic relationship with the larger Chattanooga-based hospital will help recruit physicians and bring patients back into Hutcheson's beds.

In exchange for a seat at the head of the negotiating table and greater operational control of the hospital, the counties agreed to discuss securing Erlanger's future investment in Hutcheson, which is struggling to stay afloat in the face of deep financial losses.

The letter stipulates that the counties' guarantee of Erlanger's investment would not put any risk on taxpayers, such as a future tax levied on residents to pay back Erlanger.

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