published Tuesday, April 12th, 2011

Hutcheson meeting moved to different location

by Chris Carroll
  • photo
    This is the campus of Hutcheson Medical Center in Fort Oglethorpe. Staff File Photo by Angela Lewis/Chattanooga Times Free Press

The location for a joint meeting that could change the face of a deal binding two local hospitals has been moved.

Boards representing Hutcheson Medical Center Inc. and Hutcheson Health Enterprises Inc. will meet today at 5:30 inside the Hospice Training Room in the Home Health Building at the Fort Oglethorpe community hospital.

Trustees originally were to meet in the hospital’s much smaller board room. The meeting is open to the public.

Last week, the Hospital Authority of Walker, Dade and Catoosa Counties approved a management agreement with Erlanger Health System, Chattanooga’s largest health care facility. In the long-negotiated deal, Erlanger would inject a $20 million line of credit into Hutcheson.

But a contingent resolution passed at the same time as the authority’s vote requires both boards meeting today to relinquish their own power for the deal to move forward.

Hospital Authority trustees, made up of political appointees, would take over both boards, according to the resolution.

The Hospital Authority owns the hospital building and oversees its lease. Its trustees have accused Hutcheson Medical Center Inc. and Hutcheson Health Enterprises Inc., which are involved in hospital operations, of not fulfilling their “legal and moral obligations.”

In the past year, Hutcheson has defaulted on a $35 million bond, lost about $1 million a month and laid off 75 people.

Sources from the Hospital Authority have said the Erlanger deal is in danger if the boards do not meet the resolution’s demands.

For complete details, see tomorrow’s Times Free Press.

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