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Americore, which once promised to reopen Lee County hospital, files for bankruptcy protection

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Americore, which once promised to reopen Lee County hospital, files for bankruptcy protection

Picture of Luanne Rife
The Roanoke Times
Thursday, January 2, 2020

A hospital chain that once promised to reopen Lee County’s hospital and sought to gain ownership of Patrick County’s has filed for bankruptcy protection.

Americore Health and its hospitals this week filed for Chapter 11 protection in Kentucky, according to online court records. The company owns a hospital in Pineville, Kentucky, just over Virginia’s southwest border, and others in St. Louis, Arkansas and Pennsylvania. The Ellwood City (Pennsylvania) Ledger also reported that the state health department shut down its community hospital’s emergency room and inpatient services Nov. 27 for serious violations, and that Americore “temporarily closed” the medical center Dec. 10.

Americore CEO Grant White said in a 2017 interview that he’d formed the company the year before because he wanted to save rural hospitals that were closing across the country. One of the first places he visited during a summer 2016 tour of rural America was Lee County. He convinced the Lee County Hospital Authority of his intention to develop a new, financially sustainable model of rural health care.

The authority that fall signed a letter of intent with Americore. By the following year, Americore had taken over management of the Pineville hospital and had failed to pay employees on time. A majority of Lee County’s hospital authority members continued to back Americore and sold the hospital building to it.

Americore had also sought to purchase the Patrick County hospital from bankruptcy court.

Americore failed to meet deadlines in reopening Lee’s hospital, and in January 2019, the hospital board cut its losses with Americore. It then partnered with Ballad Health, which in October opened an urgent care center. Ballad expects later this year to gain licensing to run a critical access hospital.

Americore has faced a number of legal actions.

At one point, as creditors filed suit, the company in legal documents said the creditors should have known Americore would not meet its obligations as they were aware they were all tapping a percentage of the same receipts.

The Ledger on Thursday reported that more than 100 people on social media have voiced concern about statements from a billing company seeking payments for services rendered some time ago. The medical center’s CEO told the newspaper that patients might not have been billed initially because the hospital was unable to pay its previous bill processing company.