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Hospital may face utility shutoff

Staff writer

After a $10,247.96 check bounced in December and with two additional months’ unpaid utility bills totaling $18,396.35, Hillsboro Community Hospital is in danger of having utilities shut off Jan. 4 because it is $28,644.31 in arrears.

Hillsboro City Council met in special session Thursday to discuss the hospital’s unpaid bills.

Council members were told that city attorney Josh Boehm had sent the hospital owners a Dec. 21 letter demanding immediate payment of $18,534.66 in delinquent utility charges and a $9,000 deposit to secure the account.

The hospital’s December bill adds $9,280.98 to the amount owed.

Boehm’s letter was addressed to Health Acquisition Co. in North Kansas City, now owned by EmpowerHMS. As of Thursday, UPS had not delivered the letter because the company was no longer at that address.

HCH’s January bill, soon to be sent out, will be for $17,564.68, including penalties owed for the previous bills.

City administrator Larry Paine told council members he’d been calling a phone number for the hospital owners and getting no response.

“I’ve been calling the hospital place all day,” Paine said. “I have delivered the packet to the hospital.”

Paine said Boehm also had emailed Michael Christensen, hospital network president for Empower and interim CEO of HCH after the November resignation of Marion Regier.

“I think at this point I’m going to recommend we monitor this account until Jan. 2 and then look at shutting off the account,” Paine said.

Boehm, speaking to the council by phone because he was out of state, said he agreed with Paine.

“Larry’s made the right recommendation,” Boehm said. “I don’t know that we need to take any action today. We have a right to terminate on the 4th.”

Mayor Lou Thurston said: “I’m not comfortable taking any action until we get to next week. There are a lot of implications.”

Council member Byron McCarty said: “I’d like to work with them.”

Westview hearing delayed

A court hearing to decide whether the state should remain in charge of Westview Manor in Peabody has been delayed until Jan. 7.

Westview was put in temporary receivership of Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services on Dec. 12.

Documents filed by KDADS list numerous incidents of exploitation, fiduciary abuse, misappropriation of resident property, failure to ensure safekeeping of residents’ narcotics, and more than $240,755 owed in unpaid vendor bills more than 120 days past due.

An attorney for Westview, however, filed an answer to the petition, claiming KDADS wrongfully had Medicaid payments withheld from Westview and redirected to the state, causing Westview’s financial distress.

The Jan. 7 hearing will take place in Junction City.

Last modified Dec. 29, 2018

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