Woemmel, the owner and president of Woemmel Plastering, wasn't concerned when the hospital didn't pay for the work right away. The roughly 11-employee company in
"There was no reason to believe they weren't going to pay," said her husband,
Today, about a year later, they say they are still owed the full amount:
St. Alexius, a 190-bed south
Last year, hospital management company
White did not respond to multiple requests for comment.
But the story of St. Alexius' financial struggles isn't just about White and his company, which has owned at least four other troubled
"The entities that insure those patients just don't pay nearly as well," said
At least 30 U.S. hospitals entered bankruptcy in 2019, according to the news service Bloomberg, about one-half of 1% of the more than 6,100 hospitals in the
Many of these hospitals, like St. Alexius, serve a higher portion of uninsured patients, and patients who rely on Medicare and Medicaid.
Hospitals also are contending with the trend toward performing outpatient procedures and surgeries, meaning people stay in the hospital for shorter periods of time.
Closures are more common in states like
"This is definitely a broader problem than just St. Alexius," said
117 delinquent accounts
The hospital is no stranger to financial troubles -- it had negative profit margins in 2015, 2016 and 2017, according to the
The previous owner,
But it didn't take long for Americore to run into trouble, too.
In June and
The inspector found an undated list at the hospital of 117 vendors with delinquent accounts. The report included 12 of those vendors and the amounts they were owed, ranging from
The report says the failure to pay vendors "resulted in the withdrawal of services that were critical for continued day-to-day operations of the facility."
An unannounced revisit in the fall found the deficiencies corrected, according to a CMS spokesperson.
"We have nothing that is critical to day-to-day operations that has been removed," he told the
He later added that the hospital can make payroll, and patients have food and necessary supplies.
Still, in the past year alone, a painting company, an emergency services staffing company, an addiction services provider, a technology services provider and a physical therapy company have all claimed in court that they are owed money by St. Alexius.
In the largest of these claims,
'This hurt us'
The bankruptcy case includes three other facilities either owned or formerly owned by Americore:
--Izard County Medical center, in northern
Saggio, St. Alexius chief nursing officer, declined to comment on the vendor lawsuits. He added on Thursday that vendors have been informed of the bankruptcy filing, and should follow the process of legally filing for claims.
But suppliers feel left in the lurch.
The Woemmels, of the plastering company, invoiced the hospital in
In November, the Woemmels filed a suit against the hospital in
"We've never had anything like this happen to us before,"
Others are owed money, but haven't sued.
Then four of the checks bounced, said
"This hurt us," he said. "We're committed to helping St. Alexius, but our business is not a charity, and we are not a bank."
Wright's business has been paid back some of the money over time, but he says he is still owed
Today, Wright still supplies the hospital.
But now he requires payment up front.
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