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Analysis

North Carolina Hospital Misses Payroll, Might Close

By Jack O'Brien  
   February 13, 2019

Employees at an eastern North Carolina hospital did not receive a paycheck on Friday, according to local news reports.

Washington County Hospital employees did not get paid last week and the organization's leadership said the hospital might close soon, according to WCTI.

An anonymous tip to the news outlet soon uncovered a long string of financial troubles at the facility, which is the sole provider in rural Washington County.

Employees said that their health insurance and prescription drug coverage stopped being paid around Christmas, and that a lack of contributions from the organization to 401k accounts followed as well.

Additionally, concerns have risen among employees about the unclear future for restocking medical supplies as the facility continues to accept patients. Diversion plans remain in place to send patients arriving by ambulance to other hospitals in the area. 

Empower HMS, which became the parent company of the facility after purchasing it from Washington County in 2007, has not explained the recent financial troubles, according to employees.  

Empower was supposed to distribute paychecks to 50 employees on Monday but none were received. 

In an interview with WCTI on Tuesday, Washington County Hospital CEO Melanie Perry acknowledged that there have been discussions regarding strategic plans to save the facility but that closure was a possibility as well.

"I'm dealing with the same issues you are. I'm right there with you and if I had my choice I'd rather it happen to me than everybody here," Perry told WCTI.

In a post on the facility's official Facebook page late last month, Perry said the hospital will continue to "do what we can at every minute of every day," adding that the organization is will work for the "citizens of Washington County and give this community our best no matter what."

Jack O'Brien is the finance editor at HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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