Knox County took over its hospital

One eastern Kentucky county is taking over its hospital because of ongoing problems paying bills, vendors, and its employees.

The agreement to put the Knox County Fiscal Court in charge was signed back in December of 2006, so now the financial mess is the county's problem.

Cumberland Pacer was the previous management company over the Knox County Hospital, but now the county and Alliant Management are in charge.

And in order to keep the hospital above water, the fiscal court is putting money back, including tax payer dollars, to operate on a monthly basis.

Money is going in, but county officials say they will not start seeing any from the Knox County Hospital for awhile.

"It's a little over a million dollars a month in operating expenses, so we have that money set aside as a fiscal court to be able to do the day to day operations until the billing cycles can turn around and start coming back in for us," said Knox County Judge-Executive J.M. Hall.

The judge-executive says the hospital was placed in the county's lap per an agreement signed years ago and is now in a situation he calls 'inheriting a financial mess.'

"When the bankruptcy judge orders that you make payrolls and you don't, then it looks to me like that would contempt of court, so therefore, whatever they receive, they deserve," said Judge Hall.

With the hospital being more than four million dollars in debt, county officials say it is not exactly a project they wanted.

The new CEO says it is a hefty job, but his goal is to stabilize the hospital financially for everyone involved.

"In fact with the county coming in now and taking over the responsibility for the hospital, it's a huge breath of fresh air for them," said Gary Kendrick, the interim CEO at the Knox County Hospital.

But not everyone thinks the county taking over is the solution.

"I would prefer if someone else took it over. I don't really feel that comfortable with the county handling it," said Larry Smith, who lives in Knox County.

Either way the judge-executive says the people of Knox County need a hospital they can count on and that the county plans to see it through.

The judge-executive says the county's goal is to get the hospital back in financial shape as quickly as possible, so it can be sold to another hospital management company.


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