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RVHS feasibility study complete

Paychecks will be cut to several River Valley Health System employees after yesterday’s court date.

Sunday, March 17, 2002

Paychecks will be cut to several River Valley Health System employees after yesterday’s court date.

South Point CPA Robert Payne, who is the court-appointed receiver for the hospital, said retired Scioto County Judge Everett Burton gave the OK to cut seven or eight paychecks, which are payments for actual work days.

Payne said that a report also was filed with the judge that studied the feasibility of reopening the hospital. The report remains a closed document, Payne said, until the judge has time to review it. After the judge’s review of the report, Payne added, the court may release the findings of the study to the public.

The feasibility study was done by Quorum Health Resources – a Tennessee-based hospital management company that has been reviewing the RVHS facility in Ironton. The report was designed to determine if enough interest and/or revenue exists to reopen the hospital.

Payne said there are three options in dealing with the now-defunct hospital: Find someone to buy and operate RVHS or offer enough money to pay off creditors; form a plan under the guise of receivership to reopen and run the hospital for the benefit of paying back creditors; or, if it’s just not economically feasible to reopen, sell the hospital building for its debts.

Our Lady of Bellefonte Hospital in Russell, Ky. made an offer to purchase the hospital last September. Officials from that hospital maintain the offer is still on the table. Mike Stautberg, vice president of external affairs of OLBH, has called the offer "extremely generous."

A September report in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court, however, said the offer seemed unacceptable because it "would not even cover priority debts."

RVHS closed Jan. 31, 2001 because of poor finances. When it closed, it was reported the hospital was $17 million in debt. About 400 people lost jobs due to the closing.