Gadsden Hospital Managers Declare Bankruptcy

The company that manages the hospital in Gadsden County has just filed for bankruptcy.

Ashford Health Care Systems, which runs the county owned hospital, claims that filing for bankruptcy will actually speed up the hospital's reopening.

The state Agency for Healthcare Administration shut down Gadsden Community Hospital back on November 4. Now the company that runs it, Ashford Health Care Systems, has filed for bankruptcy, and its lawyer suggests the forthcoming repayment plan will actually put Ashford back on track to open and run that hospital.

Allen Turnage, attorney for Ashford Health Care Systems, says, "The leverage of the bankruptcy code allows us to reopen the hospital and operate the hospital and pay those debts and other vendors and other debts out of operating revenues."

The Chapter 11 petition was filed in Tallahassee federal bankruptcy court Monday. It shows the hospital owes more than $2.8 million to creditors, including the City of Quincy, which is trying to collect more than $88,000 in unpaid utility bills.

Both lawyers for the City of Quincy and Gadsden County are still trying to figure out what this will mean for them and for citizens who count on having a hospital nearby.

Marlon Brown, Gadsden County Manager, says, "This is all a legal process and our attorneys will have to get with their attorneys and take a look at the dynamics of the entire bankruptcy issue."

Lawyers for Ashford Health Care say the bankruptcy petition essentially puts any financial obligations on hold. It is demanding the utilities be turned back on and it again wants immediate and unfettered access to the hospital.

No matter what happens in the financial arena, the hospital cannot open to patients without fixing the personnel and supply problems cited by the state first, and AHCA spokeswoman Tiffany Koenigkramer says there is no movement on that front.