The Marion County District Court ruled on Tuesday, March 5 that Cohesive Healthcare Management and Consulting, the company that took over the management of the Hillsboro Community Hospital, is to have full power over everything from CAH Acquisition Company #5, a corporation with ties to Empower.
The order stated that in addition to the rights, powers and authority granted to them under the terms and conditions of the Receivership Order, Cohesive is “hereby authorized to immediately enter upon, receive, recover, and take complete, entire and exclusive possession and control of the following property; any right, title and interest of CAH Acquisition Company #5, LLC.”
The order also stated that CAH has to turn over any receivership property. Cohesive has the power to operate the business and manage the property, to incur or pay any expenses needed to preserve that property, to assume, reject or assign executory contracts and unexpired leases and more. Most importantly, the order states that CAH is unable to collect or attempt to collect income from the hospital and they have to cooperate with all reasonable requests for information.
The ruling is a big victory for the hospital and the city of Hillsboro in the ongoing war to save the hospital. Full power will allow Cohesive to access all of the records, handle the finances of the hospital including receivables, discontinue unneeded services that Empower had contracted with outside sources and many other vital actions that are needed in order for Cohesive to adequately manage the hospital.
Unfortunately, it will be difficult to enforce this ruling in some aspects as far as forcing CAH to comply with the ruling simply because they are difficult to communicate with both in any correspondence and in hearings.
In fact, only one lawyer was present yesterday at the hearing for CAH and Empower. And that lawyer, Thomas Gilman, filed a petition to be removed from the case as he no longer wished to work for CAH.
“Mr. Gilman is here asking to be removed from the case and no other representatives are here today from them. This speaks volumes to me,” said Judge Steven Hornbaker.
The judge went on to promise that he will not hesitate to hold CAH in contempt of court, and he said that there will be punishment and sanctions daily for each day that they are not complying.
The judge heard the petition to withdraw from Gilman who stated that he had not been paid by CAH.
“I am not happy with you that you are petitioning to withdraw as counsel. The withdrawal could put a wrench in the wheel to delay this case further,” said Judge Hornbaker. “But I will allow you to withdraw if the court of appeals allows you to withdraw.”
CAH has filed an appeal protesting the entire case citing no jurisdiction of the Marion County District Court to hear the case or to have appointed Cohesive in charge. Judge Hornbaker stated that he takes full responsibility for appointing Cohesive. He also declared that the court does have jurisdiction and will continue to handle this case.
The judge expressed his displeasure that things had gotten to the point they had especially upon hearing details regarding the serious deficiencies found in the January visit. These were given during testimony by Tammy Zimmerman, a surveyor for the state. Some of the deficiencies included a failure to follow the chest pain procedures for three patients with cardiac complaints and two patients with suicidal thoughts.
The judge and a lawyer praised the staff of the Hillsboro Community Hospital for their efforts to continue to do their jobs.
“Everyone from the staff at the front to the kind lady who got me coffee could not have been nicer or more helpful,” said Peter Johnson, one of the lawyers for Cohesive.
The next court date will be May 7.
There were many interested parties in attendance in the courthouse including Hillsboro Mayor Lou Thurston and city of Hillsboro City Administrator Larry Paine. When asked their thoughts about the verdicts, they stated that they have been instructed by lawyers to say “no comment”.