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Emergency room complaint source of Bristol hospital’s Medicare notice, August 18, 2010

An investigation stemming from complaints about the handling of a belligerent emergency room patient by a Bristol Regional Medical Center employee is behind a recent public notice by the agency responsible for Medicare that the hospital’s Medicare payments will stop after Aug. 27. The announcement by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services has many area residents who depend on Medicare for their health coverage worried and hospital officials scrambling to let people know they have things under control. “We do not expect to be excluded from the Medicare program,” Wellmont Health System Chief Medical Officer Dale Sargent said Monday during a hastily scheduled news conference. Wellmont owns and operates BRMC, along with nine other hospitals in the area. Currently, 60 percent of BRMC’s patients are covered by Medicare, hospital officials said.