Former River Valley CEO seeks #036;138,000 payment

Published 12:00 am Sunday, July 20, 2003

A hearing Monday will determine whether the former chief executive officer of the defunct River Valley Hospital will get $138,000 that he says is due him in the form of accrued sick, holiday and vacation days and severance pay.

Terry Vanderhoof's claim against the hospital is one of four that will be addressed at a hearing in Lawrence County Common Pleas Court.

Vanderhoof, who was fired as the hospital administrator in December 2000, claims that his contract with the hospital called for a severance package equal to one-year's salary, to be paid in 1/12 increments for each month he remained unemployed, if the hospital board terminated his contract early. Vanderhoof requested in his claim that he be paid for the seven months he was out of work after he was fired by the board. The court-appointed receiver rejected his claim, prompting Vanderhoof to seek a court ruling.

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"The judge must decide how much money he should receive and what, if any part of his claim is a priority, and what would be considered pro-rated," hospital attorney Charles Cooper said.

If Vanderhoof is allowed to collect the requested money and is given a priority status, he will be paid 100 percent of the money he seeks. If he is given a pro-rated status, he will be paid 40 percent of the amount he seeks, like most other creditors who were owed money by the hospital when it closed in January 2001.

In March, hospital employees who were owed sick, vacation and holiday pay were given priority status, allowing them to collect the full amount owed them.

Cooper said he did not know how much of the $138,000 Vanderhoof seeks is severance and how much is sick, vacation and holiday pay.

Vanderhoof could not be reached for comment.

The RVHS board fired Vanderhoof during a time when hospital officials and government leaders were discussing ways to save the financially troubled health care provider.

"In the past few days, we have seen a tremendous show of support from everyone in the community," board member Jim Weber said at the time Vanderhoof was fired. "After careful consideration of our options, we decided that the change in administration was necessary to turn things around."

The hospital board went to the Lawrence County Commission the next day to ask for a $200,000 loan to meet payroll.

When the hospital closed its doors in a year later, it was estimated to have been $18 million in debt. The county commission then asked for a federal audit to determine why the hospital had suffered such a financial failure.

Also Monday, Dr. Frank Crowe will ask Common Pleas Judge Frank McCown to reimburse him for damage done to his medical office while it was being used by the hospital.

Ferguson Brothers Contracting, of Huntington, W.Va., will ask McCown for payment of $140,000 that was owed for work done on the new laboratory that was built before the hospital closed. The laboratory was never used.

Charles Lahr, whose lawsuit with the hospital was settled for $100,000, to have been paid in installments, will ask that the remaining $50,000 owed him be given priority status.

The hearings will begin at 9 a.m. Monday on the third floor of the courthouse.