A temporary banner, using the typeface of Americore Health, is draped over the sign for Pineville Community Hospital. (Photo by Anthony Cloud, Middlesboro Daily News)
The federal government has cut off Medicare and Medicaid payments to Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center in Pineville following a “scathing inspection” that found the hospital with long list of patient-care and financial shortcomings, Will Wright reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
After an emergency meeting of the Pineville City Council, Mayor Scott Madon told the Middlesboro Daily News that the city is “doing all it can to provide support for the efforts of the bankruptcy trustee to protect and preserve the assets of the Pineville Community Hospital Association,” the nonprofit that sold the hospital (but not its real estate) to Florida-based Americore Health Solutions, which changed the hospital’s name in 2017.
The association declared Chapter 7 bankruptcy last year. Madon said the city is using a $100,000 loan secured by the real estate to “fund professionals” hired by the bankruptcy trustee, presumably to facilitate the hospital’s sale. “I think we need to support our local hospital and let the professionals on both sides work out the details,” Madon said. “We hope and pray that this is resolved soon.”
According to the latest available data from the Kentucky Hospital Association, in 2015 nearly 75% of the medical center’s inpatient days were covered by Medicare and 18% were covered by Medicaid.
The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services terminated its agreement with the hospital after a January report from state inspectors found many issues, Wright reports. Inspectors reported that the hospital didn’t have an adequate operating budget, and that hospital officials said they had “no plan to ensure the facility could continue to operate.”
Among the examples of bad patient care: “Last year, one patient who was experiencing abdominal pain signed a consent form for an EGD, a procedure to examine the lining of the stomach and part of the small intestine using a small camera on a tube that is inserted through the mouth. Instead, hospital staff attempted to perform a colonoscopy on the patient, without the patient’s consent, and performed a sigmoidoscopy — an examination of the lower colon and inner part of the rectum — without the patient’s consent.”
The nearest hospitals to Pineville, the seat of Bell County, are about 15 miles away, in Barbourville and Middlesboro, the county’s largest town.