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Ellwood City, Pa. Mayor Changes Mind About Americore

From The Lee Daily Register

Payday problems and other financial trouble continue to hang over Ellwood City Medical Center like the Sword of Damocles. Inscribed on its blade are bad checks and empty promises.

Americore failed to pay its Ellwood City hospital workers on time for the ninth time on Dec 21. Hospital employees, who wish to remain unnamed in this article, say that the paychecks they received on Dec 21 were worthless. The checks bounced and the banks told the employees that there was no money in Americore’s payroll account. As of Friday, Dec 28, 69 paychecks have bounced.

Employees also say that Americore cannot wire them money anymore because White has not paid the fees from previous transfers. Employees report to LDR that the hospital’s human resources (HR) office simply says, “We’re working on it” when asked when to expect their pay.

Americore CEO Grant White claims the trouble is a result of backlog in accounts receivable. White said as much in an e-mail he sent only to hospital department heads on Friday at 4:45 pm.

To all, Despite every feasible effort, unfortunately given the time of year, the funding has not been able to be secured into the account this week. I understand how difficult this is for everyone and am continuing to work diligently on this today and over the weekend, however it has become impossible to have in the account today. The current crisis is a result of significant backlog in accounts receivable collections that is being rectified which should make January a very attractive cash collection month. I appreciate everyone’s continued support. Everyone will get paid for their work and going forward I hope to have these problems behind us. Thank you for your commitment and your patience. I am truly sorry for any stress this has caused people and my thoughts are with you all. Sincerely, Grant White

A number of hospital employees told LDR that their Christmas celebrations were ruined because Americore could not pay them on time—before the biggest holiday of the year. The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported a similar story today, Thursday, Jan 3. The Post-Gazette quoted Ellwood City Mayor Anthony Court as saying, “It’s heartbreaking.”

Tomorrow, Jan 4, is payday again at Ellwood City Medical Center. It’s also payday for Southeastern Kentucky Medical Center in Pineville, Kentucky—another hospital where Americore has chronic payroll problems.

Mayor Court, who is also on the hospital’s board, told the Pittsburgh newspaper that “It seems like a different direction, a different buyer, would have been more suitable for our community”.

Lee County & Americore Health

Lee County Hospital Authority entered into a contract with Americore Health to reopen Lee County’s only hospital late in 2017. Americore was supposed to have the hospital open by Dec 31. When it became clear that Americore could not perform as planned, the Authority requested an extension to the state-issued Certificate of Public Need (COPN) late last month. The request included Americore continuing on as the Authority’s partner to reopen the hospital, so long as certain conditions are met. Should Americore fail to meet those conditions, the Authority would have the green light to pursue another partner to open a hospital. That would mean looking for a new site, though, because the County signed the hospital building over to Americore in 2017.

Neither Americore Health, nor Ellwood City Medical Center, responded to our telephone calls before press time.

This is an ongoing story. Rely on The Lee Daily Register for all the latest hospital news and all the stories that matter to you and your family.

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