Inpatient services suspended at Copper Basin Medical Center due - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Inpatient services suspended at Copper Basin Medical Center due to lack of funds

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Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith. Photo by WRCB reporter Kate Smith.

Polk County’s only hospital will begin scaling back services. The inpatient services at Copper Basin Medical Center are temporarily closed. An emergency board meeting was held Tuesday evening to address the staff and concerned community members about the changes. 

The CFO said they just don't have the money to continue all services at the hospital. Over 15 nurses were let go from their positions. Some of them are still waiting for paychecks. 

“Fiscally irresponsible to continue operating the way we have in that capacity, totally fiscally irresponsible and were not going to do that,” said the CFO Tim Henry.

The temporary suspension to the inpatient care was a surprise to much of the staff at Copper Basin Medical Center, including nurses working in that department. 

“I came to work Saturday with a note on my desk, stating we were closing Monday the 9th,” said Tracy Rhodes a registered nurse. She lost her job and has not been paid for the last four weeks of work.

The chief financial officer explained it was a difficult decision, but they did not have enough cash in the payroll. “We took the highest paid wages, they didn't get paid. We paid the lowest wage people first with the amount of cash we had,” said Henry.

Jack Collins, who has served on the board for nine years, said they are in a financial crisis. He said over the last few years funds have been mismanaged, and the hospital didn't collect the debt from patient's accounts. But the lack of funds is stopping them from providing some services to the community.

“Our emergency room is still open. We still do x-rays, EMR. We do everything. The only thing we don't do at this time is inpatient. Still come to our hospital,” said Collins.

The staff understands the hospital needs money to operate, some just wish there was better communication. “It's very frustrating. You have bills to pay. I haven't been paid yet. I have a friend in inpatient who doesn't have a job, hasn't gotten paid,” said Christy Jones and emergency room nurse.

The operating managers hope to have the debt settled and the money issue resolved by the end of this fiscal year, so they can reopen the inpatient center. “We feel very confident that in the next 30 days we will see a good influx of cash. Sixty days, 90 days, build up some reserve to reopen the inpatient unit by October 1st,” said Henry.

The goal is raise $100,000 to keep the hospital running. So far, they have raised $325. 

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