Wednesday, May 25, 2016

TOP STORY >> Hospital sees recovery

Leader staff writer

“We are back doing what a real hospital does for a community,” said Dr. Tracey Phillips, North Metro’s chief medical officer.

“We are in a very, very good position and expect to be stable within a year,” Phillips said.

CEO Michael Randle echoed that belief. “We are headed in the right direction and offering some services that the area hasn’t seen in seven to eight years.”

But as Phillips and Randle praised the hospital, the parent company, Allegiance Hospital of North Little Rock, was having a $45,000 lien placed against it for nonpayment of unemployment taxes.

Court records show that the delinquent amount had not yet been paid.

Phillips and Randle visited The Leader offices last week to address concerns about pay problems for the emergency-room doctor and rumors that Phillips had resigned.

Both Philips and Randle scoffed at the resignation rumors. “Why would I resign? I just moved my clinic up here,” the doctor said.

“We now have the right fit of people at the hospital. It’s a tight-knit unit,” Phillips added.

He did say that a doctor did resign over billing issues with Global Physician Network of Shreveport, La., the company that pays the emergency doctors at North Metro Medical Center.

Phillips said the director of GPN, Sam Huckabee, had resigned and some pay sheets fell by the wayside.

“There were some days we called and no one knew who the director was,” Philips said. “I had to bark some, but GPN has a new director and everything seems to be fine now.”

One of the principal owners of GPN is Rock Bordelon, who owns Allegiance Health Management, which houses and provides phone service for GPN.

He is also one of three owners of Allegiance Hospital of North Little Rock, and his Allegiance Health Management firm managed the hospital before he formed his other company to buy it.

The director of the Arkansas Department of Workforce Service had the $45,325.26 lien (plus filing fees) filed in Pulaski County Court on April 1. It is the fifth lien the unemployment division has filed against the hospital owners over the past five years.

The hospital also owes state and federal taxes. “We are reaching the point of being able to start working on those back issues.

Phillips called the money issues “paying for the sins of the past.”

He said the hospital has gone from admitting 16 to 17 patients last October to 179 patients this January.

“It was a record January,” Phillips said.

Randle said the hospital is focused on providing quality care to Jacksonville, the air base and surrounding area. “All the surveys prove we are offering good care.”