Hospital options debated

Patrick County’s involvement in the future use of the former hospital property was debated and expenses discussed Monday at the Patrick County Board of Supervisors meeting.

Bill Moore raised concerns that the county paid $30,000 to a forensic accountant for information that was provided for free by former hospital administrator Jeanette Filpi.

The county paid Robert Diesel $30,000 as a forensic accountant to prepare the information, according to past reports.

“Why did we spend $30,000 for information we already had for free,” Moore asked. “What is the explanation? Do we need to investigate this? I wish you’d have called me because I’d have done it for a lot less. (It) probably would have taken me 20 minutes.”

A former hospital administrator himself, Moore said the financial reports show the hospital lost nearly $3 million over six of the eight years included in the report.

“I wasn’t really surprised the hospital wasn’t making money because these hospitals are very difficult to make profitable,” he said. “If you look online, 40 percent of all the small rural hospitals in Virginia lose money.”

If the county opts to take on the responsibility of opening the hospital, he estimated local taxes will need to be raised by a minimum of $1 million per year.

Thomas DeBusk asked the supervisors about the economic impact of the hospital closure. He said the hospital is a vital part of the community and he would like to see it reopen at some point.

Charles Vivier said “Patrick County government has no standing” in the hospital property’s future use. Rather, that “is now controlled, in my opinion, by the owner,” Virginia Community Capital (VCC).

Vivier said the county could build another facility, and he noted the $1 per year triple-net lease with option from VCC “could be within acceptable costs” to put the county in control of the property.

“However, 450 hospitals are at risk of potential closure according to a Morgan Stanley analysis in August 2018. Morgan Stanley analyzed data from roughly 6,000 hospitals and found 600 of the hospitals were ‘weak,’ based on criteria for occupancy and revenue and margins for earnings before interest and other items.

The board took no action after meeting in closed session with the Patrick County Economic Development Authority Board (EDA) to discuss personnel, legal, contract and real estate matters.

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