A Lookout Mountain physician and former Hutcheson Medical Center manager has been asked to return $85,000 he received as a consultant.
Dr. Mike Aiken, owner of GB Health Management, received the money as a consultant for the hospital from September-November 2014, right before Hutcheson's administrators declared bankruptcy. Last week, Ronald Glass filed a court motion, asking Aiken to return those payments to Hutcheson's funds. Glass is the shuttered hospital's trustee, in charge of managing all the money the company still has.
Glass is supposed to distribute all those funds to the creditors: companies and people who did work for Hutcheson and never got paid. A bankruptcy court rule allows Glass to also take back money hospital administrators paid up to 90 days before filing for bankruptcy — the idea being that the people in charge of a company about to go bankrupt aren't allowed to pick and choose who they are going to pay before seeking court protection from creditors.
Aiken formed GB Health Management in March 2014. Two months later, the board that controlled Hutcheson voted to hire him as a consultant for the hospital, paying him $30,000 a month.
They did so at the demands of then-Walker County Commissioner Bebe Heiskell and County Attorney Don Oliver, both of whom were friends with Aiken. The county officials agreed to loan Hutcheson $1 million if the board hired Aiken. Oliver told the Times Free Press last year that he and Heiskell felt Aiken was uniquely qualified to operate Hutcheson.
Farrell Hayes, the hospital's CEO at the time, also said Aiken was a good fit for the hospital. Aiken and Hayes had been in business together in the 1990s, when they ran North Park Hospital in Hixson. Hayes said Aiken had strong relationships with local directors, and he could recruit them to Hutcheson.
"I love Mike Aiken," Hayes told the Times Free Press last year.
But some senior managers at Hutcheson back then did not care for Aiken, saying he almost never talked during staff meetings. They questioned whether he did anything at all.
"I never saw it," said Mike Brady, in charge of physician relations at Hutcheson. "I never saw any overt progress."
Added Scott Radeker, the hospital's vice president of operations: "Mike [Aiken] was a ghost."
In the court filing last week, an attorney representing Glass wrote that he sent Aiken a letter in October, asking for the $85,000 back within 10 days. The lawyer, Allen Rosenfeld, added that he had not heard anything back since then.
Aiken, who is listed online as a partner at a real estate investment company called Terra Verde, did not return a call or an email seeking comment Monday.
Sixteen months ago, in December 2015, Hutcheson closed when Glass decided the hospital didn't have enough money left to be a safe operation. It re-opened later that month, after a physician's group out of Atlanta bought it for $4.2 million.
The company renamed the hospital Cornerstone Medical Center.
Contact staff writer Tyler Jett at 423-757-6476 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @LetsJett.