A full day after the deadline passed, Erlanger Health System leaders said Wednesday that negotiations involving the leasing of Hutcheson hospital in Fort Oglethorpe are "continuing."
Hutcheson leaders originally had set a Tuesday deadline for Erlanger to decide whether to enter into a leasing agreement with the North Georgia hospital.
But an agreement was not reached by then, with some phone calls going back and forth as late as 1:30 a.m. and into Wednesday morning, some leaders said.
A team from Erlanger has run the troubled Hutcheson hospital since 2011, and they say they've made its daily operations profitable.
But with some $56 million in debt, the Erlanger team says the only way they can make the hospital work long term is by getting the debt refinanced through a low-interest, 30-year bond backed by Catoosa, Walker and Dade counties.
County officials have said they'll issue the bond only if Erlanger or another hospital promises to cover the debt through a long-term lease.
County officials gave Erlanger a Tuesday deadline to issue a letter of intent to lease the hospital, which would be the first step toward hammering out a multipage lease document.
Contact Tim Omarzu at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6651.
Tim Omarzu covers education for the Times Free Press. Omarzu is a longtime journalist who has worked as a reporter and editor at daily and weekly newspapers in Michigan, Nevada and California.